Doctors of the World: Community Approach to Health and Wellbeing - Doctors of the World

Doctors of the World: Community Approach to Health and Wellbeing

At Doctors of the World, providing aid is as important as empowering the populations we are supporting.

Sustainable, inclusive and long-term growth is our main goal when we begin a humanitarian aid program, and to accomplish this requires working alongside communities to address their specific health needs. Community health and its various methods have become a pillar in the DotW philosophy. 

Community health refers to the physical and mental well-being of the people in a specific geographic region. It’s a culmination of healthcare, economics and social interaction that looks to improve the overall well-being of a community through the support of local volunteers, community members and leaders. 

DotW has been working alongside communities across the world for decades. In fact, we are predominantly made up of local volunteers and have partnered with many local and grassroot NGOs to address specific health needs. With the help of these organizations we have developed many community-based programs that look to address mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and harm reduction. Our focus has always been to support those that are most vulnerable, that are often marginalized, and help them regain their self-confidence and overall wellbeing. Below are a few examples of community health programs and centers that we worked on in 2021! 


Côte D’Ivoire: 

People who use drugs are extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C or tuberculosis and need to be taken care of and integrated into an appropriate care pathway.

In Abidjan, a city in Côte D’Ivoire,  DotW has partnered with Espace Confidence, to run a care and support center for drug-users in the city. The criminalization of drug use has pushed many to the outskirts, excluding them from healthcare and isolating them further from society. The criminalization of drug use has been repeatedly proven to be ineffective in curtailing use and addressing addiction. Countries, like Portugal, that have decriminalized drugs and created centers for safe consumption and treatment for addiction have seen dramatic improvements.

The center, called At Casa, is a warm and colorful place, a welcome atmosphere for anyone who is in need of support or care. Since 2015, the center has been focused on providing non-judgemental care to drug users, and preventing outbreaks of tuberculosis, HIV, or other health-related issues. It further provides free access to social and psychological care, and works alongside families to help individuals to address their addiction and break from isolation. 

In 2021, DotW and Espace Confidence has: 

  • Trained 217 people,
  • Carried out 4,402 HIV tests among new drug users,
  • Accompanied 41 people who use drugs tested positive for HIV and admitted to care services,
  • Collected 976 sputum samples for suspected tuberculosis,
  • Monitoring of 213 drug users with tuberculosis,
  • Reached 5,527 people who use drugs through the interventions,
  • Offered opioid substitution treatment to 15 drug users

Democratic Republic of Congo 

Political turmoil, as well as chronic conflicts and humanitarian crises due to insecurity and violence, has deeply impacted the wellbeing of many in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The additional environmental hazards, including flooding and volcanic activity, has put many at risk without any access to care. In certain regions, the violence against civilians and the cases of human rights violations have increased significantly since 2020. The cases of gender-based violence have also increased by 73% since the previous year

In Kinshasa, the capital city of DRC, DotW has partnered with the local NGO Afia Mama. This NGO is a prominent figure at the community level and uses its platform to advocate for human rights and better sexual reproductive health (SRH), especially for women facing unwanted pregnancies. 

Through its partnership with Afia Mama, DotW has formulated a program that strengthens the supply of health services based on an approach adapted to young people, community mobilization, and advocacy, for legal access to family planning services. It is a staunch supporter of the Maputo Protocol, an international agreement that guarantees women’s rights, including  social and political equality with men, and improved autonomy in their health decisions and the termination of female genital mutilation. The program also works to bring schools together, to inform adolescents about their SRH and raises awareness about risks associated with clandestine abortions. Its primary goal is to reduce mortality linked to unsafe abortions that occuring in these communities. 

In 2021, DotW and Afia Mama have: 

  • Conducted 4,759 sexual and reproductive health and rights consultations,
  • Carried out 245 abortion and post-abortion consultations,
  • Distributed 131,645 contraceptives,
  • Provided awareness and information sessions on sexual and reproductive rights and health to 76,124 adolescents and young people,
  • Trained 30 service providers and 30 community actors in maternal and child health.


Lebanon is currently facing a crisis characterized by an acute economic recession and political turmoil combined with governance challenges. Inflation has forced many into poverty, while banks around the country are unable to return money to families that placed their savings. Additionally, Lebanon is one of the main host countries for over a million refugees from Palestine and Syria, many of whom are trapped in camps, unable to work or have access to healthcare and other social services. 

The circumstances for many living in Lebanon, whether as  natives or refugees, are dire and have acute mental health implications. Poverty, political turmoil, and lack of resources has developed into mental health repercussions for many, with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and more. DotW, through the support of community agents, carries out awareness-raising, prevention and orientation work to help those in need to the appropriate structures that are offered within the communities. 

DotW has contributed to the opening of community mental health centers at the Rafic Hariri public university hospital in Beirut as well as in Baalbek. These centers work in conjunction with a service dedicated to drug users managed by our partner Skoun. 

In 2021, we have:

  • Provided 72,756 primary health care consultations,
  • Carried out 13,218 consultations in mental health and psychosocial support,
  • Conducted 17 training sessions for health center staff,
  • Trained 120 health personnel,
  • Carried out 4,833 sexual and reproductive health consultations,
  • Conducted 17 training sessions for health personnel,
  • Supported 3 primary health care centers, 2 community mental health centers and 1 medical mobile unit.




Charly Kodjo

Olivier Papagnies