Médecins du Monde (MdM) – Doctors of the World have been working to improve access to healthcare and protection of human rights since 1980. We are an international aid organisation that provides medical care and aims to improve access to healthcare for people who face numerous vulnerability factors all over the world. In Europe, we work mainly with homeless people, drug users, destitute EU citizens, sex workers, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, Roma communities, etc. Besides providing medical attention, we systematically collect data on the social determinants of health and the patients’ state of health to raise awareness about the difficulties vulnerable populations face.
In 2014, we ran 355 programmes in 82 countries. Among these programmes, 180 domestic projects were run in the 15 countries where autonomous MdM organisations exist. MdM runs over 171 health programmes across Europe: in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. About 20% of our programmes are centres for access to healthcare which organise referrals to the mainstream health system. The vast majority of our programmes are mobile, going to the places where the most vulnerable people live, i.e. doing street work, visiting squats or camps and going to isolated villages. We adapt our working hours to those of the people (e.g. sex workers, drug users and homeless people are more likely to be met at night). Some more specific programmes are dedicated to the fight against female genital mutilation, to homeless people with mental health problems or disabilities, to health promotion and protection for vulnerable sex workers and to working with Roma communities, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, children and the elderly.
Whenever possible we work in partnership, creating wide alliances when needed in order to obtain social change. The philosophy and attitude of harm reduction is transversally present in practically all our programmes. Harm reduction is a pragmatic and humane, non-judgmental approach that implies an acceptance of the different practices and lifestyles of the people encountered. Harm reduction within MdM relies on the principle of adopting a low (or unconditional) threshold as one of the main means of establishing links with the most marginalised individuals. We adapt our practice to what people want and when they want it.
MdM promotes a harm reduction approach based on scientific evidence which has also demonstrated its added value in terms of cost-effectiveness. Fostering a harm reduction attitude also means that those benefiting from programmes should be offered the tools and knowledge to increase their capacity to protect themselves and others. Our programmes are aimed at empowerment via the active participation of beneficiary groups, as a way of identifying health-related solutions and of combating the stigmatisation and exclusion of these groups. MdM supports the creation of self-support groups as a way of strengthening civil society and recognising experience-based expertise. Our activities can, in this way, lead to social change: changing laws and practices but also reinforcing equity and solidarity.
Since 2004, MdM has expanded its advocacy work towards the European Union and the Council of Europe with several international publications. We also drafted and circulated a petition among European health professionals – declaring that they will not deny treatment to patients – that was signed by 147 health professional bodies and was submitted to the European Parliament. Since 2012, we started publishing yearly reports based on the data routinely collected by health centres across Europe. Today, an increasing number of programmes are participating in the shared routine data collection of the MdM International Network Observatory on Access to Healthcare.
To visit the national associations’ websites:
Argentina | Médicos del Mundo www.mdm.org.ar
Belgium | Médecins du Monde www.medecinsdumonde.be
België | Dokters van de Wereld www.doktersvandewereld.be
Canada | Médecins du Monde www.medecinsdumonde.ca
España | Médicos del Mundo www.medicosdelmundo.org
France | Médecins du Monde www.medecinsdumonde.org
Germany | Ärzte der Welt www.aerztederwelt.org
Greece | Giatri Tou Kosmou www.mdmgreece.gr
Japan | Doctors of the World www.mdm.or.jp
Luxembourg | Médecins du Monde www.medecinsdumonde.lu
Netherlands | Dokters van de Wereld www.doktersvandewereld.org
Portugal | Médicos do Mundo www.medicosdomundo.pt
Sweden | Läkare i Världen www.lakareivarlden.org
Switzerland | Médecins du Monde www.medecinsdumonde.ch
United Kingdom | Doctors of the World www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk
USA | Doctors of the World www.doctorsoftheworld.org