Reaching marginalized communities during COVID-19

With our support, the Nobody Left Outside coalition works with the World Health Organization on this critically important issue

November 3, 2020

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homeless man sleeping on bench

…When you see homeless people and other groups on the margins of society on the streets, in subways and in public squares, please remember that our promise to "leave no one behind" is about them. And it is really the litmus test of our humanity, our consciousness and our confidence."

Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis

These powerful words from Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, goodwill ambassador for Nobody Left Outside (NLO) and former European health commissioner, can be found in the introduction of an important new pa​​per, which explores how the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affects marginalized – or underserved – people in Europe. It also provides policy recommendations on pandemic responses, recovery and preparedness. NLO – which our company initiated and currently provides financial support – produced the paper for the World Health Organization (WHO).

A right to health care

Formed in 2017, NLO is a coalition of organizations representing some of the most marginalized communities across Europe, including undocumented migrants, homeless people, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) individuals, sex workers, people who use drugs and prisoners. People in these communities are at significantly higher risk of poor health than the general population and are often in highly vulnerable situations.

collage of images of marginalized people

By uniting these communities, NLO ensures they have a single voice regarding their right to health care.

“We helped initiate the NLO platform several years ago upon learning that, due to the significant discrimination and stigma that people in these underserved communities endure on a daily basis, they faced intense challenges with accessing health care,” says Boris Azaïs, director, public policy, EUCAN. “When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, it clearly showed the stark inequities that exist for marginalized people living in Europe, and while these groups are among the hardest hit, they sadly face significant challenges in being considered priority populations by governments.”

NLO members represent and support marginalized — or underserved — communities in all EU member states and nearly all 53 WHO European region countries, both directly and through their national members. The initiative provides a European-level platform for organizations to collaborate to identify shared challenges, exchange lessons and good practice, seek innovative solutions and speak with a unified voice to offer guidance to improve health care access for the communities of people they represent – on the basis that nobody should be left outside.