At their plenary meeting in Izmir on 9 November 2016, Committee 2 took a closer look at the challenges facing regions for tackling the health of refugees. The work on this topic was initiated in September this year when AER President Dr Hande Özsan Bozatli visited Saint-Pierre University Hospital in Brussels to raise awareness on the issue. The visit crystallised the numerous challenges that medical practitioners face to provide care to asylum seekers and the need to share expertise among regions.
Committee 2 took advantage of their presence in Izmir to hear from Ms Fatma Sıla Asıbostan, Health Care worker at ASAM, Multi Service Center for Refugees. She highlighted the specific needs of asylum seekers in Izmir which include providing information and training, with interpreters but also automatic vaccination upon arrival. She confirmed what was already confirmed by doctors in Brussels that refugees do bring diseases that are less common or sometimes non existant in their new country.
AER Committee 2 President, Ms Agneta Granström (Norrbotten-SE) also gave an overview of the integration process of migrants in Norrbotten stressing that “migration is an opportunity to improve our societies, especially in Sweden, so our greatest challenge is not migration itself, but the most effective way to integrate these people. As health can be a barrier for integration, we pay special attention to develop migration-sensitive health systems”. Ms Granström presented some of the concrete outcomes policies in place for the 6000 asylum seekers in Norrbotten which include a health examination, information in their own language, training for health care professionals, etc.
Prof. Mitch Blair, Professor of Paediatrics & Child Public Health from the Imperial College London (UK) presented some of the outcomes and lessons from the MOCHA (Models of Child Health Appraised) project. The project aims at building a picture of what type of health care for children exists in all 30 EU/EEA countries. MOCHA is a European project, funded by European Union (EU) within the Horizon 2020 program.
In August 2016, MOCHA produced a study entitled: “Migrant Children in Europe: Entitlements to Health Care” and reads “Research has shown that asylum-seeking and newly-settled refugee children have high rates of stress-related mental health problems during the first years after resettlement, with unaccompanied minors having the highest rates of symptoms. Infectious diseases and poor dental health are more common in these children than in settled European populations and many have an accumulated need of preventive and basic health. Thus, access to health care is a major concern for migrant children.”
MOCHA website: http://www.childhealthservicemodels.eu/