Rubbish! Let Them Receive Healthcare

Providing healthcare to the poorest of the poor has been a tricky endeavor for even the best of social enterprises, as these individuals have no traditional means to pay for services. But what if you let them pay with something more basic…say, garbage? Gamal Abinsaid, 24, set up Garbage Clinical Insurance to help communities in need turn their household waste into something that could improve their health. He is the winner of the top prize in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, and he is also an Ashoka Young Changemaker. On becoming a finalist for the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards, Gamal said, “May this be a goodness which brings more goodness. Let’s help people until we can’t.” Read below for an interview with Gamal!

It might sound unusual, but it works. Gamal’s company, Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI), has already helped more than 2,000 people in Indonesia gain access to medical support.

A young doctor himself, Gamal was inspired to set up the micro-insurance program which empowers people to take an active role in managing their waste and improving their sanitation. Individuals are encouraged to collect their household waste and submit their refuse to one of five GCI-accredited clinics. It’s then processed. Organic waste becomes fertilizer while inorganic waste is sold to collectors.

A month’s worth of refuse can reach close to 10,000 Indonesian rupiah ($0.87) which is used to cover a patient’s treatment and run healthcare programs and clinical services for the community, providing families with access to doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and health volunteers. To date, GCI has recruited 88 volunteers, 15 doctors and 12 nurses, all of whom are paid with refuse from the community.

Here he shares how he came up with the idea for his initiative, and how he hopes to see it grow in the years ahead.

Tell us a little about your background…

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia. I’m still studying there for a masters degree in biomedicine. I am a doctor, researcher, technopreneur, and sociopreneur.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Indonesia is classified by the World Bank as a lower-middle-income country. Some 85% of the population still remains without any medical health coverage and recent estimates indicate that about 18% of people live on less than US$1 a day.

I started to wonder how we could create a health financing model which would allow people to get health access from their household resources. Our Garbage Clinical Insurance program seems the perfect solution, because almost every day every home produces garbage which is not used, so anyone can join our scheme.

You’ve identified a problem your project can help solve. How does that make you feel?

I believe that health is a fundamental human right. However, in reality many people can not get access to healthcare because they do not have sufficient money and the cost for medication is expensive. I want to give people freedom from the fear, worry and pain of disease.

Why is this issue so important to you?

Indonesia has a huge problem regarding access to healthcare. Many people can’t get access to healthcare due to financial factors. My goal is not only to create a breakthrough program, but also to make it more effective and efficient.

How do you believe your idea could make a difference?

Garbage Clinical Insurance increases the value of garbage exponentially. We’re empowering every individual to mobilize overlooked resources and take an active role in managing health financing. We’re changing the perception and habits of people in the community too. We’re aiming to replicate the success of Garbage Clinical Insurance in other regions, and scale the programme up considerably.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

Our team is focusing on developing and replicating Garbage Clinical Insurance by creating new programs in further regions. We also want to ensure the sustainability and independence of our ventures. In developing this product, we have applied scientific and research aspects in order to make sure our referral program can act as a role model of a reliable, innovative micro-insurance initiative.

Adapted from features on Unilever

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