© Claudia Kollwelter
Last year alone, more than 800 vulnerable people needed the help of the services provided by Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde).
The not-for-profit, which has been recognised as a public good in February, demands that the health system is made more inclusive and accessible.
People without a permanent address, job or revenue have no access to care. Out of the 815 patients seen by Doctors of the World last year, the majority were male. The youngest patient was 4 months old, the oldest 79 years old. Most of them are from a European country and 7.5% are Luxembourgish.
Thanks to volunteers, the association managed to handle roughly 2,400 consultations last year. Around 100 volunteers work for Doctors of the World: 13 doctors, 20 nurses and a number of specialists. But this is nowhere near enough, says Vice President Bernard Thill. Overall, he says, they need people who offer their services for free.
The association is very grateful for hospitals who take in patients at the A&E, and perform x-rays, an ultrasound, or other necessary treatments. In terms of making care more affordable, the association suggests that, for instance, Luxembourg should adopt a third-party social payment system, which would intervene at least in cases where there genuinely is no income available.
The problem is that people aren't always willing to declare how poor they are and that they need help from the community. There is a sense of pride that even people who genuinely need help find hard to shake off.
The association also states that it isn't acceptable that social offices only get involved once a person has a permanent address or a job, or has been in the country for at least three months. France and Belgium have had this sorted for a long time: anybody with health problems will be looked after, no matter whether they have a permanent address or for how long they have been living in the country.
They further note that political change is needed, stating that hospitals that are happy to treat these patients and perform surgery, for example, need to pay their staff who are tending to these patients. Luxembourg's health insurance does have some savings in the bank, says the association, so treating these 800 patients per year in Luxembourg shouldn't be that big a problem.
In addition to Esch and Bonnevoie, Doctors of the World also want to open offices in Ettelbruck. From the donations that the not-for-profit receives, only 4% are used for administrative purposes and the remaining 96% are used directly for the patients.