Pamela Ransom


Universal access and financial risk protection are identified as health targets in global negotiations for post 2015 development goals although these represent difficult challenges for countries burdened by overstretched budgets and growing populations with increasingly complex health care needs. In many parts of Africa health financing is characterized by weak, under-resourced systems, high out of pocket contributions and lack of donor will. The paper gains insight from small scale, creative financing strategies for health emerging among the very poor through innovations of grassroots women’s networks. We explore the influence of peer learning and information exchange in women’s home-based caregiver networks that emerged in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in various parts of Africa. This examination of an Africa/Asia peer exchange focuses on results of information sharing, particularly replication of the shared “best practice” of a health mutual fund model among caregiver groups from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. In all three countries semi-structured interviews of peer exchange participants report rapid launch of a fund (within one to two years in all three countries) after participants returned. Additional replications in the form of spin off funds are the result of women’s engagement in follow up education and training. The paper examines characteristics of the replicated health mutual funds uncovering potential for new partnerships with governments in years to come.

Author Biography

Pamela Ransom PhD is Associate Professor at Metropolitan College in the school of Public Affairs and Administration. Her BA is from Harvard University and PhD in Urban Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as Deputy Director of Town Planning for the Government of Jamaica and consultant for the United States Agency for International Development. She was Co-director of Harvard Africa Volunteers working with volunteers throughout East Africa. For eight years, she was Special Assistant for Environmental Affairs for the Manhattan Borough President and New York City Mayor. She has served as Program Director for the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, managing a global program on health and environment. She taught Public Administration on the faculty of Long Island University for 14 years in the Masters of Public Administration Program and public policy with Northwestern University School of Professional Studies. She serves as a consultant and policy adviser for the Huairou Commission in their international programs on women and has been a researcher and consultant for a wide variety of other government agencies, health institutions and community organizations internationally and in the United States.