Opportunity International Australia has worked with Indian partner, Equitas Small Finance Bank, and the Indian Government to swiftly establish a mass vaccination campaign for vulnerable people affected by COVID-19 in India.
The vaccination camps reached 1.2 million beneficiaries in 10 states by the end of August.
“Equitas and Opportunity are working to support an equitable roll-out of this lifesaving vaccine in India, where only 15% of the population have been fully vaccinated [as of 24 Sept],” says Annie Wang, Health Programs Director, Opportunity International Australia.
Opportunity’s vaccination campaigns focus on urban slums and vulnerable rural and tribal communities.
“This is the first time a microfinance institution (MFI) has played such a significant role in campaign-based health services delivery, and an incredible demonstration of the potential for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for MFIs,” says Annie.
Opportunity works alongside MFIs like Equitas, which are dedicated social businesses, with unparalleled scale and speed for community mobilisation. MFIs are extremely effective at mobilising communities at speed and scale due to existing networks and trusted relationships within communities – this has massive positive implications for public health.
Opportunity funded the camps and developed training materials to mobilise communities to get vaccinated.
The core of Opportunity’s work is providing small loans to women in Asia, so they can grow small businesses and work their way out of poverty. Opportunity also provides access to healthcare, education and women’s safety programs. Ninety-eight per cent of Opportunity’s clients are women.
The partnership focused on mobilising women to lead immunisation campaigns. Since women are pivotal in disseminating essential information and influencing family members on healthcare choices, the first step was educating women in slums and underprivileged communities so they could share within their households and the surrounding communities.
The program was originally planned to run until November but is likely to be extended as vaccinations open to 12 to 18-year-olds.
Equitas vaccination camps are expected to reach 3-4 million people in 2021, with 100-150 camps running per day.