As floods are increasingly affecting people all over the world the IFRC in partnership with Zurich insurance and Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) organised the first Flood Resilience Innovation Conference. The forum gathered a large group of angel investors, partnered agencies from the private, public and academic sectors. One of the amazing projects presented during the conference included Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI), the first micro health insurance in Indonesia that allows low-income families to access healthcare in exchange for the garbage they produce.
The creator of this idea is Dr Gamal Albinsal, who in 2005 served as a trainee at a local hospital. While being on duty he witnessed how a child, son of a scavenger, eventually passed away because his father couldn’t afford to pay medical fees. He realised that many families were not receiving health services simply because they cannot afford the treatment. After a series of observations, he saw an unusual connection, a lot of families produce tonnes of garbage per month that are not being recycled. As part of the problem, lack of waste management typically causes drainage blocking ending in floods for communities, so the idea of trading rubbish for health insurance was perfect to address two major issues.
How does it work?
Members of the program collect about 10,000 Indonesian Rupiahs worth of garbage per month and drop it off at one of five GCI- accredited hospitals. Members can then access the clinics for treatment, medicines, health education, and preventive and rehabilitative sessions. People can also pay with garbage whenever they visit the hospital. The clinic then turns the organic waste into fertilisers and compost and sells the inorganic waste to collectors and recycling companies. Most of the patients who participate in the program are farmers who work in the rice paddies just outside the city, usually, the didn’t have access to a medical programme before this innovation launched.
Current status and impact
So far, GCI has helped 3,500 uninsured people in Malang get access to healthcare. Beyond basic treatment, preventive, and education programs, GCI offers additionally several health services through a network of more than 200 medical students. The program has been successful because only 10-15% of people who collect garbage use the services in a given month. Due to an open source manual provided by Dr Albinsaid, the model has already spread to more than 50 towns and villages in Indonesia.
GCI has recruited 88 volunteers, 15 physicians, and 12 nurses, all who are paid with revenues generated from collecting the community’s waste. It is also getting ready to attach itself to the national health insurance scheme (BPJS) to bring access to healthcare for all in Indonesia.