CEGIN is a self-financed company that focuses on providing quality health services to single women, mothers and their children in poor areas.
Geographic Area of Impact: Argentina, Bolivia
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 9,000 (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 300,000 (2009)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Argentina, 2005
Argentina’s economic crisis has reduced the number of people able to afford medical coverage. Many have lost their right to public healthcare while others, particularly indigenous communities, never had any. Healthcare options currently available include either the public health system, which can be inefficient and offer average service, or the private health system, which can be prohibitively expensive. Traditionally, there exists a gap between the medical profession and the public, making it difficult for doctors to understand or treat the primary needs of a community. CEGIN aims to bridge the gap and costs.
Innovation and Activities
CEGIN is a completely self-financed and profitable company, which offers affordable health services to mothers, their children and women in poor rural areas. Thanks to its innovative approach to meeting market demands, the company is able to offer health services for significantly less than private medical coverage and better quality than many public facilities. Fixed costs of providing basic healthcare are high, while the incremental cost of treating each additional patient is minimal. By providing excellent and convenient services, with extended operating hours and the best available equipment, CEGIN attracts a large volume of patients. This in turn allows the quality of the service to be maintained at a much lower cost to each patient.
CEGIN attends both patients with state medical coverage (“obra social”) and those without. It sells membership cards to the public for a small cost, registering them as CEGIN clients. With the card, a patient has access to consultations at any CEGIN centre for a reduced fee. Any treatment subsequently prescribed is either provided by CEGIN or a CEGIN partner at less than half of the normal market price or, for some illnesses, the patient may be referred to a public hospital. Patients from rural areas who are referred for treatment are either transported to the cities or treated by CEGIN specialists during their regular field visits.
CEGIN doctors are atypical and are hired on the basis of their personal integrity and moral values. They are often local and recently graduated, with experience in treating patients from rural areas and a desire to break down traditional hierarchies in the medical profession. These doctors are obliged to join a 3-4 day medical tour to remote rural areas at least once a year.
CEGIN’s first health centre was founded almost two decades ago in Jujuy in north-west Argentina. Currently, the centre manages 130 patients a day, performs 1,000 tests for cervical and ovarian cancer and treats 500 patients per year. The profits finance the extension of health services to the poor and those in remote areas, sometimes reachable only by foot. CEGIN recently consolidated with the SER Foundation to extend access to healthcare to 40,000 people.
Jorge Gronda retired from public administration because of the failures he perceived in the public health system. He set up Centro Ginecologico Integral to improve basic primary health needs. CEGINs central offices and main clinic are in San Salvador, serving around 20,000 since its inception. With a reputation for integrity, Gronda is easily able to generate good will, create partnerships and expand his operations. He is one of the 10 winners of the 2008 World Business and Development Awards for his Sistema Ser project, which works to improve the lives of those at the bottom of the economic and social pyramid by increasing their access to healthcare. Gronda also works with Rosario Quispe, an indigenous entrepreneur who manages a health centre in the sparsely populated province of La Pampa. The centre treats 3,500 women, and a community microcredit fund has also been created.
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