Migration and Struggle in Greece

Report of the University of Athens on Immigrants and the health care system in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 30 March 2009

This is a translation of a article.



The ways many immigrants lacking the necessary documents are denied access to public health services in Greece are highlighted by the «Report on the health of Immigrants in Greece». The report was  issued by the Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics of the Medical School of Athens University.  As noted in the report, approximately 1,000,000 immigrants living in the country face many obstacles and incredible difficulties regarding their health care, in contrast to other European countries, which have created databases with information about access and care in the health system.  The situation gets even more difficult due to factors such as bureaucracy, long waiting lists, inadequate infrastructure and other chronic problems of the health system; one more such factor is the lack of public information services concerning the legal status and rights of different categories of foreigners. 

The experts have described the situation particularly alarmingly since many immigrants suffer from infectious diseases and psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, while 40% of migrants work mainly as unskilled workers as cheap manual labor hands (with the risk of accidents being very high) they do not even have provision of care in the case of accident. 

The report also emphasizes that the directive by the former Minister of Health Al. Papadopoulos, which prohibits public hospitals and health centers in the provinces to treat both regular and emergency incidents with immigrants lacking legal documents has not been abolished yet.  Moreover, it is pointed out that there should be special measures taken  to help overcome the difficulties faced by immigrants without documents, so that they can have access to health care services by specially qualified, well informed and linguisticly skilled personnel,.  Finally, special reference is made to immigration detention centers, where living conditions are particularly bad, with many problems as regard the facilities and basic medical equipment..

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