12 October, 2023
Helping people live well and thrive in Denmark through healthcare support
Oak Foundation Denmark / Partner story
For a whole section of society in Denmark, accessing services such as childhood vaccinations, diabetic treatment, or even urgent dental care is a challenge. That is because, aside from emergencies or acute serious illness, people living without a social security number, such as migrants, have no right to routine healthcare from the public health system.
To address this issue, in 2011, the Danish Red Cross set up a health clinic in Copenhagen where volunteer health professionals provide basic healthcare services, free of charge, to anyone unable to access Denmark’s public health system. Prescribed medicines are free to anyone who cannot afford to buy them. Rikke Dalsted, now leading the clinics today, began as one of 300 such volunteers, giving her time and skills as a sociologist and specialist in public health at the Copenhagen clinic. Read Rikke’s full story here.
“We believe that everyone has the right to health,” says Rikke. “Yet without a Danish social security number or health insurance, people are left without the healthcare support they need to live well and thrive.”
The clinics – which now run several times a week in Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Odense, and soon in Aalborg – have grown to help thousands of people each year. The need for the clinics continues to grow as more people discover the support being offered.
All of this is possible thanks to a team of healthcare professionals. From doctors, dentists, and midwives to physiotherapists and more, they volunteer to work a shift at the clinic about once a month. A network of specialists also volunteers their support for onward referrals, such as psychiatry or dermatology. Other volunteers provide support and a warm welcome to patients, by running the reception, brewing the waiting room coffee, or helping with interpretation.
“We see everything from itchy shoulders to cancer,” says Rikke. “A lot of people need prescriptions for noncommunicable diseases like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. We also realised there were a lot of undocumented women or couples here who were expecting a child. So now we have midwives and family nurses who provide the same care as people with access to the Danish healthcare system.”
Oak Foundation Denmark has supported the Danish Red Cross health clinics since 2011. Oak Foundation Denmark partners with foundations and organisations that have a direct impact on people’s lives. Find out more about Oak Foundation Denmark here or visit its local website here (in Danish). You can find out more about the Danish Red Cross health clinics here.