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Dr Kouchner calls for global health insurance scheme

Founder of Medecins sans Frontiers proposes the global fund to make health care accessible to the poor

Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News
Bernard Kouchner
Gulf News

Dubai: The countries of the world might soon agree to contribute towards a global insurance scheme to make health care accessible to the poorest of the poor and those caught in war zones, said Noble laureate, French physician, politician and founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) Dr Bernard Kouchner.

Arguing his case, Dr Kouchner who spoke on ‘Creating change through medicine and care through the world’ at the Dubai Health Forum, told Gulf News: “Fifty years ago when I proposed the idea of having Doctors without Borders, nobody thought that was possible. But today it is and even if it is a dream to get the countries of the world to contribute four to six per cent of their budget towards creating this fund for the next ten years, this can be made possible.”

Dr Kouchner added that these funds would not just provide medicines and benefits of health research but also provide basic amenities such as access to drinking water, sanitation and health education that would have a direct impact on the health of people in poor countries.

Dr Kouchner pointed out that with new research in health care, there was cutting-edge treatments available for the rich and while that in itself was not a wrong thing, one could not forget that more than half the population in the world did not have access to basic health care.

“The life expectancy of people in Haiti remains 45 years whereas that in France is 83 years. The average sum spent by an individual in the US is between $6000 and $7,000 per annum (approximately Dh22,000) whereas a person in Sierra Leone cannot afford to spend more than $4 (Dh14.68) per annum. Public health is far more important than super-specialisation and we have to cover this huge gap and make the system more fair, more equal.”

Dr Kouchner cited the setting up of the UN-backed International Therapeutic Fund in 1997 which was an attempt at making health care accessible to those who could not afford it or lived in conflict zones.