Following in the tradition of Genève Internationale, the HUG has been committed to humanitarian partnerships and international cooperation – as well to development assistance – for over 30 years.
As such, it carries out long-term projects that focus on training, skills reinforcement for partner institutions, and research. They offer technical expertise in fields as varied as neglected tropical diseases, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, anaesthesia, or even cardiac and reconstructive surgery.
The aims of these projects are multiple:
- Facilitating equal access to health and healthcare in countries with limited resources. This is achieved by responding to the needs of populations, having an impact on the community and improving health conditions in these countries through the reinforcement of healthcare workers’ capacities and skills
- Developing the skills of HUG professionals by introducing them to other environments in order to promote motivation and a culture of commitment
- Reinforcing the reputation and visibility of the HUG on a global level
Various projects have therefore been launched in countries with limited resources, most often in Africa, Asia and in Eastern Europe.
To fulfil this commitment, the HUG relies on the Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC) and on a policy that prioritises sustainable development.
Funding sources for the implementation of these projects and humanitarian missions are multiple:
- the equalisation fund, made up of a deduction of fees from the HUG senior doctors’ private activities,
- funding granted by the Directorate for Development and Cooperation (DDC), a body within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), responsible for international cooperation,
- funds allocated by the International Solidarity Service (FR), a State of Geneva funding body for cooperative and humanitarian aid actions,
- donations allocated by the HUG Private Foundation,
- donations from private Genevan foundations.
Two types of humanitarian missions exist:
- Les interventions médicales ponctuelles (2 à 3 semaines) qui ont lieu le plus souvent à la suite d’une catastrophe naturelle (tremblement de terre, tsunami, etc.). Elles sont réalisées dans le cadre de la convention avec le Service d’aide humanitaire (SHA) sous l’égide de la Direction du développement et de la coopération (DDC),
- The provision of HUG employees for missions spanning three to 12 months to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The aim is to reinforce support to populations in emergency situations during armed conflict, mass displacement or epidemics.
In 2019, 12 employees departed on humanitarian aid missions with the HAS/DDC, the ICRC or MSF, for a total duration of 584 days.
International cooperation projects
These projects aim to reinforce the capacities of the partner institution so that the population can a direct benefit, with improvement in access to healthcare and health services.
These projects take several forms:
- Teaching, transfer of expertise (medical, healthcare) in partner hospitals
- Welcoming doctors and nurses in the HUG for additional training
- Operational research
- Evaluation of health systems and training needs
- Sharing of expertise: in collaboration with other Swiss partners (Sentinelles, the Children Action Foundation, Cœurs Pour Tous) to care for young children suffering from serious illnesses.
Over the course of the last five years, no less than 77 projects have been implemented, amounting to 2,276,932 Swiss francs, thanks to HUG equalisation funds and external funds (State of Geneva, DDC).
In 2019, 76 employees set off on 56 different missions in order to implement these various projects. In total, the latter were commissioned for a duration of 582 days.
At the same time, as part of agreements with the Terre des Hommes or Sentinelles foundations, the HUG regularly welcomed patients from Sub-Saharan Africa requiring hyper-specialised care in paediatrics (cardiac intervention or plastic/reconstructive surgery for the after-effects of noma). The HUG also organises an annual mission in partnership with the Sentinelles foundation, with the next being planned for the first semester of 2021, in Dakar (Senegal).
As head of the plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery department, Professor Brigitte Pittet-Cuénod is a committed and combative personality.