At Doctors Worldwide, we believe wealth should never influence a person’s choice to seek medical help. Healthcare is not a privilege, it is a human right, and we work towards making that a reality. Our Medical Debt Relief Project (MDRP) addresses medical poverty by clearing the bills of the most vulnerable patients trapped in hospital.
Sadly, due to poverty, many vulnerable patients struggle to pay for the medical care they have received from their local hospital or clinic. Unable to pay their medical bills, patients are often left trapped in hospitals, separated from their families and deprived of any source of income. This then has a negative mental and financial effect not only on the patient in question, but also on dependent family members. As a result, fear of medical debt leads many individuals to choose not to receive any medical care at all, despite needing critical treatment for their own health. The impact is not just on the patients, but the health facilities too who do not have a choice but to detain patients in order to cover their own costs.
Currently, we are working in Rwanda to support a community-based health organisation in alleviating the medical debt of the most vulnerable patients unable to afford medical care in hospital facilities. Since its launch, the project has already supported 9 patients to return home within its first week, and has resulted in an increased availability of hospital beds for ill patients from rural areas who would have previously been turned away. In addition, Doctors Worldwide are also providing medical insurance to 1,000 vulnerable individuals, covering 166 families.
“Often we see gaining access to a healthcare facility as the biggest challenge for the world’s most vulnerable. But the subsequent detention within hospitals of those who are unable to pay for their treatment is of growing concern. The Medical Debt Relief Project is the first step in addressing this practice, allowing treated patients to return home to continue living their lives. The cooperation between local hospital federations and community health organisations has proved critical in the successful launch of the project. I very much look forward to seeing how the project goes on to serve the most vulnerable populations across the globe.”Fatimah Wobi, Project Manager, Doctors Worldwide
The first phase of the Medical Debt Relief Project will focus on maternal, new-born and child cases, those with long-term conditions that are transitioning into palliative care, and patients with medical insurance who are unable to pay the 10% levy to cover all their costs.