How Has the Refugee Crisis Situation Impacted Their Health Delivery Capacity
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In May 2017, the World Health Assembly (WHA) endorsed resolution 70.15 on ‘Promoting the health of refugees and migrants’.
Problems that our volunteer medics see range from skin and breathing problems to chronic conditions such as diabetes, pregnant women unable to access any kind of antenatal care and people who have been victims of police brutality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common health conditions seen in refugee camps include hypothermia, burns and gastrointestinal illnesses. There is a high incidence of upper respiratory tract infections within the population that our medics encounter, often as a result of the damp and poor sanitary conditions, which lead to the spread of viruses and bacteria. Smoke from open fires is a risk factor for respiratory complications, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Skin conditions, including scabies, and the spread of parasites due to a lack of washing facilities and clean bedding are widely reported.
Moreover, the study reported that there was a tendency in many European Union (EU) Member States to restrict entitlements of undocumented migrants to health services ‘to discourage the entry of new migrants’, with nine of 27 EU countries in 2010 restricting access to health services for undocumented migrants so that emergency care was inaccessible, only five offering them access to health services beyond emergency care and only four [Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain] affording them entitlement to access the same range of services as nationals of that country [as long as they met certain pre-conditions, such as proof of identity or residence]. Against this background, it is urgent to understand the nature of migrants’ and refugees’ health needs and the barriers that exist to meeting them, to learn from the successes and failures of different approaches and to develop new ones where required (Wild V, Zion D, Ashcroft R. H., 2015). The urgency is not only for knowledge and good practices in service provision, but also for policies that provide an effective framework for action in conformity with the UN Declaration, while engaging with and attracting broad support from the population. Running through all such practices and policies must be strong threads of humanitarian assistance and equity (McKee M., 2012).
Jakab Z. Foreword. In: Bradby H, Humphris R, Newall D, Phillimore J, editors. Public health aspects of migrant health: a review of the evidence on health status for refugees and asylum seekers in the European Region. Health Evidence Network synthesis report 44. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2015. p. vii.
McKee M. A preface: how ethics failed: lessons for public health for all time. Public Health Rev. 2012
Wild V, Zion D, Ashcroft R. Health of migrants: approaches from a public health ethics perspective. Public Health Ethics. 2015;8(2):107–109.