Healthcare for refugees: a necessary symbiosis of medicine and politics

UNHCR Rohingya Refugees

Rohingya refugees live in overcrowded makeshift sites in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after fleeing across the border to escape the October 2016 violence in Myanmar. © UNHCR/Saiful Huq Omi.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Janatana Karunakumar, a 3rd year medical student at Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany. Ms Karunakumar is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

While some European politicians discuss about implementing quotas, which should reduce the influx of refugees in Italy, Greece and other European countries, it has not been sufficiently done to ensure a quality  healthcare for refugees in the host countries.

Refugee health care can only be delivered effectively if the specific needs of refugees are met. According to the Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center the refugee experience is divided into the categories: preflight, flight, and resettlement.

The preflight phase may include the death of relatives, air bombardments and witnessing of murder etc.  The quality of the flight itself has been viewable in the global press – despairing families standing closely together at railway stations, hardly seaworthy and overcrowded boats. Ongoing challenges like loss of culture, community and language and the uncertain access to food and water can continue in asylum camps. The health implications of all these phases can last for many years.

A study, presented in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, also found out, that post-migration problems were markedly connected with emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.[1] The Lancet study, an Oxford University research, shows that social supports in high-come host countries have got a positive effect on refugee child´s psychological functioning.[2] All in all, the most important factor of long-term well-being is the integration into the host country´s social and health system.

So, what should be done in order to improve the current health situation of refugees in the host countries? To say it in the words of Rudolf Virchow, a brilliant physician, politician and founder of social medicine: „Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.“

The clinical services should supply holistic interventions within a phased concept when working with refugees. At a structural level, it is obvious to reduce the post-migration problems of refugees and provide them enough social support and the opportunity for an effective integration.

Admittedly, the integration is harder to achieve in countries, which are already struggling to offer a high quality health system for their native citizens. But wasting resources into parallel substandard healthcare systems, which target only short-term social needs, is not the sustainable solution.

Expanding existing healthcare systems must be a central element of European humanitarian response to the  so-called migration crisis.

References

[1] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0020764009105699

[2]   http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60051-2/fulltext

About the author

Ms Janatana Karunakumar is a 21-year-old, 3rd year medical student at Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany. Her parents moved from Sri Lanka to Germany. She grew up in Detmold and moved to Göttingen for her studies. Besides medicine, social-political topics are one of her major interests. Her hobbies are playing volleyball and chess.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

UN chief pays tribute to Egypt’s role in avoiding ‘dramatic’ escalation in conflict across the Gaza-Israel border

Can the next financial crisis be avoided?

Fighting crime: faster EU-wide exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

MWC 2016 LIVE: Verizon boasts momentum for IoT platform

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

Commission challenges Council over EU 2014 budget

Deutsche Bank slammed by the US-based trio of IMF, Fed and Moody’s

G20 LIVE: The European Sting covers online world news and the latest developments at G20 from Antalya Turkey

Would you let an AI vote for you?

Civilians suffering due to sanctions must be spared ‘collective punishment’ urges UN rights expert

Use “blockchain” model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens, urge MEPs

UN Security Council urged to act against ‘worst-case scenario’ Syria’s war-battered Idlib

Women’s leadership ‘critical’ to future of Niger

Parliament’s interparliamentary delegations established

MWC 2016 LIVE: Zuckerberg warns mobile industry not to ignore the unconnected

Children who exercise have more brain power, finds study

Banks launch green charter to help shipping reduce its carbon footprint

The unpleasant truth of plastic straws

Mexico must increase foreign bribery enforcement: full implementation of anti-corruption reforms could help

The cuts on 2014 Budget will divide deeply the EU

Parliament votes reform for better European Co2 market but critics want it sooner than later

Hatred ‘a threat to everyone’, urges Guterres calling for global effort to end xenophobia and ‘loathsome rhetoric’

These 4 Nordic countries hold the secret to gender equality

The European Council takes more measures to stem illegal migration

Climate action: 4 shifts the UN chief encourages Governments to make

The movement of anti-vaccers: taking humanity back 200 years

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

UN General Assembly President defends ‘landmark’ migration compact

Rehn very reserved about growth in Eurozone

A very good morning in European markets

South Eurozone urgently needs fairer distribution of taxation burden

How secure is blockchain?

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

Here’s how blockchain could stop corrupt officials from stealing school lunches

The European Commission, European Investment Bank and Breakthrough Energy Ventures establish a new €100 million fund to support clean energy investments

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

Long live Eurozone’s bank supervisor down with the EU budget supremo

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

EU-Russia relations: the beginning of a warmer winter?

We are close yet so far…

Can the EU last long if it cuts Cyprus out?

Nigeria: Armed conflict continues to uproot thousands, driving up humanitarian need

Why do US presidential elections last so long? And 4 other things you need to know

Chart of the day: These countries have the largest carbon footprints

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antibiotics

FROM THE FIELD: Changing world, changing families

“CETA is a game changer for major trade agreements”. The Sting reports live from EBS 2015

India’s economy is growing fast, but its poorest areas lag behind. Here’s why this could be about to change

Brazilian healthcare and the Global Compact for safe orderly and regular migration

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Mozambique pledging conference hopes to soften devastating blow of back-to-back cyclones

Cambodia’s schools are the new frontline in the battle against climate change

Aid funding for Occupied Palestinian Territories at ‘all-time low’

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Employment contracts today are a reducing share of the workforce”, scientists worry in Davos that the 4th industrial revolution threatens employment globally

Electronic cigarettes: is it really a safe alternative to smoking?

Azerbaijan chooses Greek corridor for its natural gas flow to EU

Euro-Mediterranean Assembly fixes its permanent seat in Rome

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s