Pillar of Health Provides Affordable Health Insurance to Youths with Type I Diabetes in Rwanda

Humanitarian Social Innovations is thrilled to welcome Pillar of Health to our network of social entrepreneurs.

Reflecting on the work of his nonprofit organization, Pillar of Health, founder Laurien Sibomana says that he is inspired by how a small gesture can have a huge impact on someone’s life. And Sibomana aims to make more than a small gesture: his nonprofit’s mission is to make health insurance accessible to every youth living with Type I diabetes in Rwanda.

“Rwanda has an innovative type of health insurance — a community-based health insurance (CBHI) under which each family member has to pay four dollars per year. ” -Laurien Sibomana

“With health insurance, the basic medical cost becomes only ten percent of the total cost. For instance, a person with Type I diabetes will pay two dollars for two bottles of insulin each month, instead of twenty dollars, a largely unaffordable amount to the general Rwandan population,” Sibomana said. “Since this is a family-based health insurance, each family member has to pay before anybody can receive care. Rwandan families are large, and some families are unable to afford such an amount. In that case, the child with diabetes becomes a victim.” 

He added that health insurance is also important for treating diseases such as malaria, and for other medical needs like maternal and child health, and accidents. 

“Pillar of Health will employ a bottom-up system solution, directly focusing on beneficiaries; first by raising funds to provide free health insurance to individuals who cannot afford it, and then using local solutions such as vocational training and locally available jobs to enable the recipients to pay for themselves in subsequent years,” Sibomana said.

Pillar of Health will collaborate with the government, private sector and clergy to obtain jobs for those whose insurance is paid. The organization plans to follow up regularly in order to ensure that its goals are being met.

“I have always wanted to help others, and I feel like I have found my calling,” Sibomana said.

Laurien Sibomana stands with two children, both diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

Aid in the Time of COVID-19

Getting started as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe has created obstacles for Pillar of Health, but they are obstacles that Sibomana is hurdling with grace.

“The COVID-19 pandemic poses a challenge because potential donors are focusing on their own needs or local needs,” he said. “We will have so many people who need help, more than we anticipated. And I may not be able to travel as soon as I wished.”

In order to help as much as possible while Pillar of Health is in its early stages, Sibomana created a WhatsApp group, called Solidarity T1D, which allows nurses and patients to share information, and facilitates fundraising in Rwanda to support individuals in need. To date, he said, they have assisted 110 people. The group has also identified hospitals with severe supply shortages and arranged for insulin and syringes to be distributed to them, and Sibomana has organized distribution of food to those in need. 

Humanitarian Social Innovations is proud to sponsor and serve Pillar of Health in order to maximize its impact.

To support Pillar of Health during the COVID-19 crisis and in the future, please click the button below.

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