The Impact of Health Cooperative Membership on Women’s Health Agency and Economic Status in Uganda

July 5, 2024
By Dr. Meghan Fitzgerald, Dr. Judith A. Hermanson, and Jennifer Wenborg

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of women’s health cooperative membership on health agency with reference to their economic status, ability to access health care, health knowledge, as well as their role in health decision-making for themselves and their families. Data was collected from a representative sample of women health cooperative members and a comparison group of nonmembers in Uganda and used various regression analyses to examine the association of membership and of health agency. Results showed a significant positive association between women’s cooperative membership and income level, access to health insurance, access to antenatal care, participation in health trainings, and perceived ability and control in making health-related decisions. While financial means are necessary to access health care, health agency is necessary for women to realize the full benefits of increased access to and use of health care. These findings indicate that health cooperatives can play an important role in empowering women to be agents of their own health and the health of their families, thus supporting a more gender-equitable society. This report is a collaborative effort between HealthPartners and the International Cooperative Research Group, the research and learning arm of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council.

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