Access to finance for local doctors
Expanding local, affordable healthcare services will be key to the challenge, especially in cases involving complications. Expanding access to finance will be in turn be central to expanding these services. My idea focuses on increasing access to finance to rural doctors, who can then expand to provide delivery services and related supplies.
This is what I picture: We recruit microfinance institutions to provide working capital loans to rural doctors for equipment and supplies. To further expand services, rural doctors could opt to recruit mid-wives (as micro entrepreneurs) who either perform the delivery themselves, or in critical cases, bring the patient to the doctor. Being a central part of the community, the doctor (perhaps in combination with the microfinance institution) is well positioned to identify reliable mid-wives. There are appropriate revenue sharing agreements between doctors and mid-wives. Any loans taken by the rural doctor or the midwife are re-paid to the microfinance institution through the use of mobile payments. This ecosystem can be used in parallel with some of the other great suggestions out there – a system to text all mid-wives in an area during an emergency, transmission of vital signs to midwives through cell phones etc. Local contacts such as doctors and midwives will be important to speeding up adoption of these technologies as well.
What is the minimum level of mobile technology needed for this concept?
We would need a system for (auto) payment of working capital loans through mobile technology. This would reduce the burden on the microfinance institution of collecting payments that are outside their core loans. Ideally, this system would be supplemented with other technological innovations such as those mentioned above.
How could this work in a low-literacy context?
We would recruit doctors and midwives on the basis of access to finance and improved economics, ideas that are easily communicable to relatively literate individuals. This should be easier than accessing the mothers-to-be themselves. The mothers then become aware of improved local delivery services and cell-phone related technologies upon their first visit to the local doctor, or through word-of-mouth. Mid-wives could also market their services throughout the community. During an emergency in a low-literacy environment, I would imagine that the first instinct is to seek help from a doctor or other skilled person; we need to therefore ensure that these services are actually available. The human and the service elements here are what could make this work in a low-literacy context.
Which partners could help realise and deliver this solution?