Healthy Behaviors + Social Networks =
Founded in 2005 by Daniel Zoughbie in honor of his grandmother who died of diabetes in Palestine, Microclinic International (“MCI” which was originally incorporated as “Global Micro-Clinic Project”) is a not-for-profit development organization that seeks to revolutionize how deadly diseases are prevented and managed worldwide. Building on epidemiological evidence suggesting that healthy behaviors are transmittable across social networks, the microclinic strategy leverages human relationships to address both non-infectious and infectious disease epidemics such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS. If negative behaviors like smoking, unsafe sex, and overeating can be contagious, so can positive, healthy behaviors. This is what we call “contagious health.” To date, we have established and evaluated over 1,500 microclinics across four continents.
A “microclinic” is not a small building, but a human network consisting of small groups of people who share access to education, technology, and social support as members work together to prevent and manage a deadly disease. Built on social relationships and social capital rather than bricks and mortar, microclinics put the power of health directly into the hands of the people who need it most.
MCI works with local partners to address a widespread and debilitating disease in the affected community. Through a series of community-based workshops with trained facilitators, each microclinic is equipped with practical skills and a system of reliable support needed to transform the social and economic determinants of these deadly diseases in their own networks of family and friends. Throughout the training process, microclinics create a robust information dissemination system that can be readily tapped by local and international organizations to effectively coordinate successive trainings and build local capacity. Far from a vertical intervention for a single disease, the microclinic strategy facilitates a broad community-level transformation by reinforcing the social infrastructure so that it is able to support an expanding range of health, education, agriculture, microfinance, and livelihood programs within marginalized populations.
In addition to offering an innovative social network-driven method of addressing debilitating diseases, MCI is committed to rigorously evaluating our projects with the aim of enhancing their effectiveness and success. Using sophisticated cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, MCI has demonstrated the effectiveness of the microclinic model through statistically significant improvements in the health indicators of our program participants. Upon achieving evidence-based success, MCI seeks to affect policy-making in the communities in which we work in order to expand and institutionalize our programs. MCI’s three-fold approach of 1) program launch and management, 2) research and evaluation, and 3) policy and advocacy has allowed us to catapult community-based microclinics into effective regional public health policies. Our experience has demonstrated that health is indeed contagious—across social networks, communities, and nations.