Vital health and social services for the most vulnerable in Brussels, Belgium

The Integrated Health and Social Centres project focuses on providing vital health and social services to some of the most vulnerable people – including migrants – living in the Belgian capital. The project’s volunteers set up two centres in the city’s diverse Cureghem and Molenbeek neighbourhoods and use a converted mobile home to provide medical services to those on the street.

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Migrants in need of medical attention gather outside the ‘Medibus’ ©Medecins Du Monde Belgique Migrants in need of medical attention gather outside the ‘Medibus’ ©Medecins Du Monde Belgique

" The ‘Integrated Health and Social Centres’ project provides quality care and support to those in Brussels who need it most – from elderly people living in isolation, to migrants with little means who often face cultural and linguistic hurdles. "

Isabelle Heymans, project coordinator

Brussels, like other European cities, is seeing an increased demand for healthcare and social support services, as well as a rise in the number of people with complex chronic medical issues requiring attention. For those with social and economic vulnerabilities, including the elderly, the homeless and drug addicts, accessing appropriate care can sometimes be a struggle. 

This is especially true for migrants, who may face cultural and linguistic hurdles, as well as discrimination and a lack of knowledge about the local health system.

The project seeks to tackle this challenge by ensuring that people on the fringes of society have access to proper, stigma-free care and support. 

One-stop shop

To best reach those in need, the project – which involves many volunteers – set up two centres in the city’s diverse Cureghem and Molenbeek neighbourhoods. The services provided there range from primary care to mental health help for both adults and children, as well as family planning, debt mediation and assistance for drug addicts. 

While everyone from the surrounding areas is welcome, specific attention is given to the most vulnerable with the goal of incorporating them into the primary care system and reducing their stigmatisation.

To improve patient-centred care at its centres as recommended by the World Health Organization, the project has integrated a number of traditionally fragmented services under one roof. This makes it possible for people with multiple chronic problems – such as less mobile senior citizens – to access the care and support they need in one place. 

‘Medibus’ on the move

With the help of a converted mobile home – or “Medibus” – the project is hitting the streets to seek out migrants in need. In addition to medical consultations, this arm of the project also supports migrants’ rights to healthcare and carries out advocacy work.

Beneficiaries

“I was received by a social worker that I recognised from another association. She helped me sort out my administrative  situation. Thanks to her I now have my identity card and will soon receive financial and medical help from the state.

 

Anonymous

 

“When I arrived in Belgium I desperately needed my hepatitis medication, but I couldn’t afford it and the hospital wouldn’t give it to me. Médecins du Monde did everything possible to get me my treatment. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. Thank you!” 

 

Anonymous

 

“Thanks to this health centre I could have a more complete follow-up and access to other healthcare services. I am very satisfied because I can be seen by a general practitioner when I am not feeling well, while being regularly seen by another specialist doctor for my substitution treatment and by a psychiatrist from another institution. The professionals know each other well. I notice that they communicate with each other because my file is very well followed. I think this project is a very good idea.”

 

Anonymous

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Integrated Health and Social Centres” is EUR 7 440 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 720 000 through the “Brussels Capital Region” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “‘Investment for growth and employment’”.

 

Draft date

11/09/2018