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Faculty of Public Health Medicine calls on Government to address health needs of asylum seekers and refugees

A report published today by the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland,  calls on the Government to provide early screening, immediate access to healthcare and for vaccinations for asylum seekers and refugees.

The Irish government has committed to accepting 4,000 new migrants through resettlement and relocation programmes.

Despite economic difficulties, that includes a scarcity of social housing, and reduced access to health and social care services for the general population, Ireland must look after the needs of all migrants, including undocumented migrants.

 

We welcome the government’s approach to accepting those fleeing war in the Middle East. However, the complicated physical and mental healthcare needs of these people must be met in an appropriate fashion, with adequate interpretation and social supports to encourage full integration into Irish society in the long term.

Dr Anne Dee

Co-author, Specialist in Public Health Medicine

The report contains recommendations for the short, medium and long term needs of the migrant population, including:

  • Early screening for chronic diseases, mental health issues and infectious diseases and the adequate resourcing of medical/nursing and other required services to meet current and projected requirements.
  • Immediate access to primary care, sexual and reproductive health and mental health services, which are culturally and linguistically competent.
  • Funding for additional vaccinations for asylum seekers and refugees should be ring-fenced so that all necessary vaccines can be administered in a timely manner.

 

We hope that this position paper provides inspiration to policy makers to devise policies and provide services that protect human rights and improve the health of both migrants and the communities in which they live. Health status is influenced not just by access to health services but also by housing, education, employment language support and a safe environment. These social determinants have significant impact on long-term health and wellbeing.

Prof Elizabeth Keane

Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Further recommendations include:

  • The timely processing of asylum applications should be done in a timely fashion. Time spent in direct provision and other accommodation centres (including EROCs) should be limited to the absolute minimum.
  • Specialised services, such as psychotherapy for survivors of torture and other traumas, should be available and accessible for those who need them, wherever they are resettled.
  • All sectors of the health services should collaborate to ensure the development of health and social policies that promote inclusion and integration of all migrants into Irish society. This will minimise the negative impact of migration and reduce health inequity. Asylum seekers, refugees, and relocated individuals should be represented and involved in all decisions and policies that affect them.

 

Migrant Health- The Health of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Relocated Individuals

A position paper from the Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Yvonne McCahill

Press Officer, Communications Department

Tel: +353 1 8639 627 | Mobile 086 7723056

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