UN-backed health insurance plan provides coverage for Refugees in DRC

11:15, December 29, 2009      

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A 6,000-U.S. dollar-per-month United Nations investment in a pioneering health care scheme is paying significant dividends for nearly 1,500 refugees living in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)who fled neighboring countries, UN officials said here Monday.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spends just 30 U.S. dollars a month for each refugee family, up to seven or eight people, on a life-saving medical insurance plan administered by the Bureau Dioccsain des Ouvres Medicales (BDOM), the officials said.

Under that plan, which was established in 1978 and covers 2 million people in Kinshasa, refugees in the capital are assigned to a health center close to home for primary care and can be referred to a major hospital, for more complicated treatment, said the officials.

UNHCR joined the BDOM system this year after an extensive evaluation of refugees' complaints about the quality of medical services they received, the officials said.

"Now that half of all refugees are living in cities, we are having to look at more innovative ways of delivering services to them," said Paul Spiegel, head of UNHCR Public Health and HIV Section.

"The health insurance program in Kinshasa may be one example we will want to consider duplicating for refugees in other major cities," he said.

Local health care experts say the system is more efficient, with less bureaucracy and more focus on the health of the patients, and refugees are not only assured medical treatment but are free from discrimination when they arrive at the hospital.

Source: Xinhua
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