Organizing health together
We plan to create a social and health center in which healthcare professionals of various occupations join forces with local inhabitants to shape life practices in the promotion of good health. Our understanding of health is much broader than the standard use of the term. We focus not only medical care and individual behavior, but also on the social conditions of health – from the local to the global level. Political and social factors such as rent increases, low income, precarious employment relations, xenophobia or poverty in old age are proven to influence health more strongly than the quality of medical care. Our approach will work in both domains: the promotion of health and the treatment of illness. We will do this by providing support for people to develop collective strategies to solve shared problems, by taking part in current political debates, and by orienting our praxis around the needs of clients, with whom we will co-develop further provision practices. We want to develop a concrete alternative to existing outpatient treatment structures where profit interests have no role, where quality rather than quantity counts, and where health is understood as a common good to be organized with the people and for the people.
Social conditions and participation
Our goal is to take into account the enormous relevance of social factors to health that has been proven in diverse studies (for example, housing, education, work, participation). This social conditioning of health will be reflected in all of the center’s activities. In this
sense, for example, a doctor could channel expressed problems in the life and work situation of patients into the center’s political projects. Participation should play a role in medical care as well as in the ongoing organization and further development of the center.
We are positing an alternative to the dominant hierarchies within and between occupational groups in healthcare. In our center, we
work together in a multi-professional team with equal rights, and we regularly exchange in collective case discussions and promote knowledge transfer between occupational groups. Different perspectives and approaches to action as well as the possibility to learn from each other enrich our praxis.
We want to develop our focus areas and practical work in accordance with prevailing needs in the city disrtict, and our aim is to fill
existing treatment gaps rather than to create doubled structures. To this end, we seek intensive cooperation with schools, childcare
and counseling centers and other organizations and initiatives that are active in the district. Enabling sustainable patient care
through networking with other providing organizations is also a long-term goal.
In many healthcare centers persons with the greatest needs are systematically excluded, as language, technical terminology or
even physical building conditions create barriers to their partaking. Furthermore, certain groups (asylum-seekers, illegalized migrants,
etc.) are completely excluded from regular medical care. Within our conceptual framework, we will seek innovative solutions to these
problems, so as to provide everyone with equally good access to illness treatment and health promotion.
Who are we?
Over 20 persons with occupational backgrounds in social work, nursing, medicine, the health sciences, pedagogy, psychotherapy and law make up the Gesundheitskollektiv Berlin (Berlin Health Collective). We are part of a translocal network with historical origins in the Medibüro (Medical Office) in Hamburg. Discussions about the systematic exclusion of undocumented persons and migrants without health insurance from regular healthcare provided an impulse to think differently about healthcare systems and to develop concrete ideas for alternative model projects. The goal of our network is to establish a similar concept in as many places as possible. Our sister project in Hamburg is currently building a similar project in the Hamburg district Veddel. We believe that access to excellent healthcare for all people
and the promotion of health through improvement of living and working conditions should be the central tasks of the healthcare
system. Exclusion through racism, language, economic interests or financial barriers has no place here. In the spirit of the WHO,
we demand health for all!
Health movement then and now – here and there
We have consciously and intensively informed ourselves about comparable projects in Germany that have already been tested.
The health movement of the 1970s and 80s gave way to group practices and health centers, a number of which still exist today. The policlinics of the GDR also had many credible structures that should not be forgotten. Further, there are health centers
in other countries that share a comparable approach: in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland and beyond. We consider it imperative
to learn from these experiences.
Health collective in the Rollberg neighborhood in Berlin-Neukölln?
We are currently participating in discussions around the development of the former Kindl Brewery land in the Rollberg neighborhood in North Neukölln. The land was purchased by the Edith Maryon Foundation with the aim of securing it for social, creative and ecological uses for the long-run. We hope to realize the creation of the social and health center here.