Supporting Vulnerable Populations through Community-Managed Health Funds in Cambodia
Community participation is instrumental in facilitating access to health services. In Cambodia, the Community-Managed Health Equity Fund (CMHEF)—established by the NGO Buddhism for Health (BfH) in 2004—is a self-funded, community-based social structure that operates in the catchment area of the local health center.
Since early 2019, HP+ has partnered with BfH to support the CMHEF in its mission to be a responsive, inclusive, sustainable community participation structure that enables rural poor and vulnerable population groups to access high-quality healthcare services. At a time when many NGOs are reducing support to programs that target people living with HIV and TB due to shortfalls in external funding, HP+ and BfH initiated an expansion of current CMHEF support to include these populations and provided capacity development support to commune councillors, clerks, and CMHEF leaders. HP+ provided hands-on training and technical assistance to support BfH in mobilizing community resources, public funds, and district-level leadership support to CMHEFs, and provided organizational capacity building through coaching and mentoring in areas such as financial management, governance, and communications.
As a result of these efforts, 136 CMHEFs have expanded their support to include HIV and TB patients. In addition, 143 communes integrated CMHEF activities into their Commune Investment Plans for 2020, with an estimated budget allocation of US$100,653. As of May 2020, 110 communes had disbursed funds to CMHEFs. Most significantly, 24,046 individuals classified as most vulnerable have accessed healthcare services through CMHEFs—a two-fold increase from the beginning of the project. This support comes at a particularly critical time, as CMHEFs, in conjunction with BfH, have helped 974 poor and vulnerable families to weather the economic impact of COVID-19 by providing emergency financial support and education on measures to mitigate the potential spread of the virus within their communities.