Aidex Voices

With almost 60 years of experience in medical insurance, AidEx 2016 exhibitor Cigna has rooted its services in a solid understanding of local situations and facilities, giving NGO workers the best healthcare possible in the field.

While public attention is rightly focused on humanitarian crises throughout the globe, there can be a tendency to forget humanitarian workers themselves who are often exposed to dangers including disease, kidnapping and violence. In fact, there was a 300% rise in major attacks on aid workers between 2004 and 2013.

With this in mind, it is not only important to recognise and celebrate humanitarian workers’ efforts with initiatives like AidEx’s Humanitarian Hero Award, but also to ensure they receive the best healthcare services when in the field. 

With decades of experience insuring both international and locally-recruited staff from international organisations and NGOs, Cigna can cover all eventualities. Most importantly, Cigna makes sure that its insurance services and communication are grounded in a solid network of locally-based staff, on hand to advise and inform humanitarian workers 24/7, whatever the situation and location. 

Since risks can vary completely between countries and regions, Cigna aims to weigh up the specific risks, capacities and resources of every location it is active in. To do this, it relies on an extensive provider relations team, responsible for visiting and assessing local facilities and maintaining strong partnerships with local providers to ensure the highest quality care. 

Locally-based case managers are a key part of this local approach. This proved crucial for a 22-year old woman who suffered a motorbike crash in Benin. Luckily, the local case manager was at hand to assess the facilities and to arrange an emergency evacuation to France so the young woman could receive the best possible care.

Furthermore, Cigna’s case managers ensure a coordinated and structural approach to patient care by maintaining a clear communication flow between patients and providers so that the clarifications and practicalities of treatment are understood and properly addressed. For example, when a 7-year old boy, whose family is based in Kenya, fell ill and was kept at the hospital for long periods of time; a local case manager helped arrange nursing and physiotherapy in the comfort of the family’s own home, making the prolonged hospital stay no longer necessary. 

Local communication officers form a crucial point of contact on the ground. They regularly visit local offices of international organisations and NGOs to share insights and advice on the current healthcare situation. They also provide extra support for humanitarian workers to better understand the facilities and challenges in the field. Whether running through procedures and equipment for emergency surgery with a hospital after it received a car crash patient, or briefing other teams on new facilities or malpractices reported by local doctors, they carry out detailed, regular assessments of the situation on the ground and make sure healthcare arrangements correspond to this. That way, humanitarian workers access the medical care they need as easily and as rapidly as possible. 

Humanitarian workers’ efforts are crucial in solving most pertinent development challenges of our day. With Cigna constantly on the look-out for healthcare opportunities and solutions, they can focus on the immense tasks at hand, knowing that support is there for them wherever they are.