The Community Managed Health Equity Fund (CMHEF) is a self-funded and sustainable social structure established and operating in the catchment area of the local health centre (HC). The governance structure of a CMHEF is composed of a mixed membership, including local authorities, religious leaders, public service providers, and active community members. They raise funds through various activities such as charity boxes, annual fundraising ceremonies, and contributions from pagodas, mosques as well as other institutions. The CMHEFs have helped facilitate access to quality healthcare services for the poor vulnerable people by providing them with complementary benefits to those of the National Health Equity Fund. CMHEF members also interact with people, especially the disadvantaged groups at grassroots level to raise awareness and collect their feedback and concerns, to convey to the relevant authorities with a view to further improve the quality of healthcare services.Buddhism for Health has been a partner with University Research Co. Ltd. (URC) since 2014, in the USAID Social Health Protection Project – establishing and implementing Community Managed Health Equity Funds (CMHEFs) in 8 USAID target provinces in addition to the 4 previous provinces. So far, CMHEFs are operational in 442 health centres
Amongst the 442 CMHEFs, in Phong Health Center located Kong Pisey OD in KampognSpeu province, a CMHEF was established in the catchment area of this health center since August 2015. The scheme has identified 242 most vulnerable people including Elderly Poor, People with Disabilities, Poor Pregnant Women and Poor Orphans, as their beneficiaries. So far, it has locally raised approx. US$1,500.00 and managed to support their target beneficiaries.
Grandma Sous Theoun, a 63 year old widow, is one of the CMHEF’s beneficiaries. Her house is located in Trapaing Chrove village about 6 Kilometers from the Phong HC. Since her 2 children left home after getting married,and she had no choice but to live alone with her 86-year-old mother. Since both of them are old and unable to earn a living, they are very poor and cannot afford to obtain treatment for their ailments.
She said,“Before I am became the CMHEF’s beneficiary, I didn’t know that I was eligible to receive free healthcare services with support of National Health Equity Funds. On the hand, the HC located far away from my home and I was not strong enough to walk all the way, because I did not own even a bicycle. I could not ask a motorcycle taxi to take me there because I didn’t have the money to pay for treatment and transportation’s fees. Every time I fell sick, I just stayed at home. Until 2015, I was identified as CMHEF beneficiaries,a member of the CMHEF members came to my house and handed me a CMHEF’s Voucher and explained me about the benefits of National Health Heath Equity Funds as well as the CMHEF. He told me that I could receive free healthcare services with support of the National Health Equity Funds because I was the poor, and with this voucher, I could receive additional transportation allowance from the village to the HC from our CMHEF through the HC staff.”
She went on to say, “Since being identified as a CMHEF beneficiary, my health status improved considerably. I am able to travel to the HC for treatment for free because I receive a transportation allowance of 6,000 Riel per round trip to and from the HC. Furthermore, the User Fees for our treatment are paid by the National Health Equity Funds on our behalf. So we don’t need to worry about sickness anymore.” Now she looks healthy and has the energy to attend to housework and look after her ageing mother.She said,“Now, I feel strong and confident because the CMHEF supports me generously – like a mother taking care of her sick child.”
In conclusion, she expressed her feeling that if she didn’t have the CMHEF to help her, she would be very sick and miserable, unable to access healthcare servicesdue to lack of money and means of transport. She is very grateful for the CMHEF benefits she receives and hopes that they will continue to support her and other marginalized poor people in her community forever.