Emmaus International

Since 2011, the Emmaüs association Tara Projects (India) has been fine-tuning a mutual scheme allowing those most marginalised from society to join forces and access healthcare. In 2015, the insurance scheme hit the 2,000 member mark!

For several years, Emmaüs International has been supporting the development of mutual health schemes within Emmaüs associations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and India. In order to access healthcare, society’s most marginalised individuals come together to form a mutual health scheme. They pay a small contribution which allows them to access the healthcare system, and have their say in decisions which affect the mutual scheme through either elected members or representatives.

An ever-expanding membership and a growing range of services

Last October, an evaluation mission was conducted in India, and produced deeply encouraging results. Since its inception in 2011, the mutual health scheme of the New Delhi Emmaüs association Tara projects has gone from strength to strength. In only one year, membership rose from 1,750 to 2,127 people – an increase of 20%.

The range of healthcare services which the mutual scheme offers also continues to expand. In the words of Thomas Bodelet, the member of staff responsible for monitoring these schemes at Emmaüs International, “Levels of corruption within the Indian medical profession are staggeringly high, and many medical procedures are performed for an extortionate fee. Consequently, in 2015, the New Delhi scheme established partnerships with 7 clinics, and sends members to these partners as and when they require care”.

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Towards self-sufficiency and governance

Many awareness-raising campaigns are organised to prevent the most common illnesses and disorders, and thus avoid the excessive consumption of medical services. These campaigns have reduced the number of medical consultations by 30%, and allowed the scheme to move slowly towards balancing its books. Today, the scheme covers 67% of its healthcare bills, compared to 56% a year ago.

The scheme’s results are encouraging, and priority is now being given to capacity building and strengthening governance. According to Bodelet, “the population is increasingly aware of the benefits of the mutual health scheme and is gradually taking ownership of its operations. We must now bring new leaders to the fore, who will be the elected members of tomorrow, and give them the skills to take the scheme’s future into their own hands!”

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