The Geneva based Anglican Health Network presented a seminar at St. Paul’s Institute, London on Friday 4th November.
Over the past 2 years the network has been working with the leading microinsurance agency, MicroEnsure to offer health policies to communities in India and Tanzania. Network coordinator, Revd Paul Holley, was joined by MicroEnsure CEO Richard Leftley and by Lloyds of London specialist Nigel Ralph to discuss the development of microinsurance. This is part of the ongoing series of seminars presented by St. Paul’s Institute to engage faith and finance.
In the absence of any significant insurance market in Sub-Saharan Africa, the policies offered by MicroEnsure are breaking new ground. With credit life and crop insurance emerging from microfinance operations, the company has expanded to work with mobile phone companies and development agencies. Its business is growing rapidly in these sectors, but the overwhelming demand is for health insurance.
The Anglican Health Network is established to provide mutual support amongst Anglican health service providers. The primary challenge faced by facilities in the developing world is to find alternatives to patient fees. These fees are universally acknowledged to keep people in poverty. Whether in India or Africa, the picture of debt and destitution more often results from health expenditure than any other factor.
Working with MicroEnsure, the Anglican Health Network has demonstrated that low cost microinsurance policies can free families from the risks of unplanned health expenditure. A pilot in the Diocese of South Kerala demonstrated the utility of a hospital in developing an insurance market amongst the poorest surrounding communities. The Tanzania programme engaged the Diocese of Dar es Salaam to create a sales mechanism through its parishes.
The presentations highlighted that these still are early days for microinsurance. The market remains in its infancy and there are further lessons to be learned before large-scale programmes can be tackled. Nevertheless, both MicroEnsure and the Anglican Health Network remain committed to further learning and implementation.
Meeting in the City of London, where Lloyds of London has been active in developing insurance services for the past 4 centuries, the seminar demonstrated synergies between the mission of the church in meeting the needs of the poorest and the adaptive business models of the insurance industry.
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