203207 Income Support and Women's Health Reform in Developing Countries: The Impact of Microfinance

Monday, November 9, 2009: 2:55 PM

Deborah Viola, PhD , School of Health Sciences & Practice, Department of Health Policy & Management, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY
Qiuhu Shi, PhD , Department of Epidemiology & Community Health, New York Medical College School of Health Sciences & Practice, Valhalla, NY
Health systems and pathways to better health are shaped by the economic environment and the social structures and political forces that govern each country. The objective of this study is to highlight the link between globalization and women's health reform by specifically considering the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), the microfinance response, and their health impact on women in developing countries.

Low socioeconomic status has been linked to a great burden of disease and death in developing countries. Studies have illustrated the impact of the AoA on decreased earnings and employment, poverty, and reduced access to education and health care services. These burdens further exacerbate existing gender inequalities within developing countries, since agriculture practiced by the poor is often considered “women's work.” Several studies have explored the role of microfinance in rejuvenating urban agriculture and putting poor women “back to work.” However, researchers have rarely tested whether social programs designed to alleviate poverty or otherwise improve economic well-being for large segments of the population are linked with health improvements.

Further, researchers have questioned the merits of existing quantitative analyses in capturing the impact of economic and development policies on women's health status in developing countries. We present preliminary qualitative case studies of women and the use of microfinance to suggest that such a relationship does exist and demonstrate the need for more empirical, multidisciplinary work to be done in this area if we are to truly impact women's global health.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the impact economic and development policies can have on women’s health status in developing countries.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently work with my colleague and mentor Dr. Peter S. Arno on the role of income support programs and impact on population health (US studies). I have co-authored with Dr. Legge: Legge D and Viola D, “Globalization, Development and Health: A Political Economic Perspective on the Global Struggle for Health,” in Women’s Global Health and Human Rights, Eds. P. Murthy and L. Smith (Boston: Jones and Bartlett): February 2009.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.