Making accessible health care sustainable
Hello! I am Vincent Guérard, the founder of Urban Care. Thanks for going one click further to visit our website to learn more about this social enterprise.
So, why a social enterprise? Why health care? Why Vietnam to kick it off?
It all begins with my job experience and education. I am a family physician by training and completed my initial schooling with an MSc in International Health. For three years I worked as a GP in the southwest of France, an area known for its wholesome food and great wines. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience and it gave me a clear understanding of the benefits of a sound and accessible health care system.
My first major shock as a physician came when I took a six-month research assignment on the accessibility of service – economic, geographic and social – in the paediatric unit of Yaounde University Hospital in Cameroon. There I witnessed children dying every day because of a crippled health care system and low staff morale.
This experience got me thinking about many things, particularly questions about how valuable hard science is when you are applying it in a hospital setting in which the pharmacy, for example, has no stocks of medicines because of questionable management practices throughout the entire public health system.
Following my research work in Cameroon, I enrolled as a volunteer with the French NGO Médecins du Monde for a three-month mission in Morocco, working to establish a drop-in clinic for sub-Saharan non-status migrants. The goal was to set up a structure to provide the 5,000-strong population of these migrant workers with essential care: paediatric, maternal health, HIV prevention and detection, TB detection and so on.
The migrants spent an average six months in transit to Morocco before attempting to get to Europe, and they lived in terrible conditions. Their travel through the Sahara desert was extremely difficult ( and not only because of the very hot conditions). As a result we encountered a fragile population that had moved from areas where they had little opportunity to better their lives, and who now faced equally difficult challenges as non-status migrants in a host country.
My work in Morocco led to me taking a position with MdM as the Country Medical Coordinator of an HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program in Vietnam. At the same time I registered for a PhD in Epidemiology with the Swiss Tropical and Pubic Health Institute (on cost-effectiveness analysis, under the direction of Pr. Marcel Tanner, head of the Swiss TPH).
The combination of the field work and the more academic rigor of a Ph.D convinced me to take the my ideas a step further: to build a sustainable health care service at grass roots level, where in fact all health care begins.
Many of you have probably wondered what it would be like to visit a developing country, where the local health care system is accessible to and meets the needs of the most vulnerable population. Such a reality makes the jobs of health care workers that much easier and health care itself more sustainable, particularly health care related to women and children, Tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS, among others.
This is the reality that Urban Care has in its vision and among its core aims in the Vietnam context.
The Urban Care project finds itself at the crossroads of several trends emerging on our planet: rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, an aging population, poor quality primary health care and the onset of a massive non-communicable disease endemic. These are the trends that the project aims to address.
The system is fairly simple: the company makes its revenue through its consulting branch. Revenues pay for the staff and overheads, and the management of our future social activities (and that is critical). Patients and clients are charged a maximum 5% margin to ensure the sustainability of the program and its development, poor families are charged even lower.
How are we going to get there? Well, it is quite a challenge. Macro-economic outlook in Vietnam this year (2015) is not good, and the regulatory environment is complicated in the domain of health care, to say the least. Yet, our consulting branch is booming, and this year we are going to report a substantial profit. So, we need to move on, and we are going to circumvent those tiny issues… Stay tuned, we are getting real. More news pretty soon in the blog section.
I had the chance to receive and now it is time to give.
Thank you for taking the time to read this short introduction to our work. Should you have further questions about the project, do not hesitate to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the rest of this site to learn more about our services.
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Hope to work with you soon!