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

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Azeri natural gas will keep the EU warm soon

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

EU budget: Commission proposes most ambitious Research and Innovation programme yet

Future of EU farming: MEPs push for modern common policy with fair funding

“BEUC cautions against TTIP that would seek to align EU and US chemicals management frameworks”

New EU rules to thwart money laundering and terrorist financing

90% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop

France: New labour laws for more competitiveness

Haiti: ‘Laden with challenges’ but also hope, Mission chief tells Security Council

The Linde Group Logo (Source: The Linde Group website, Press Services, 2018)

EU starts in-depth investigation of Linde-Praxair merger over competition concerns

The cost of housing is tearing our society apart

Galileo and EGNOS programmes back in orbit powered with €70 billion

Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief

Kellen Europe Hosts EuroConference 2016

Trade, taxes and other takeaways from Li Keqiang’s speech to the World Economic Forum

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

Rich economies not a promise of education equality, new report finds

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14

Berlin wants to break South’s politico-economic standing

Quantitative easing: how Mario can tackle low inflation in Eurozone

After the Italian ‘no’ and the Brexit, Germans must decide which Europe they want

New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

ECB to people: Not responsible if you lose money on Bitcoin, your governments are

#TakeYourSeat at the UN Climate Change Conference: a way for all people to join the global conversation

A backbencher Tory MP threatens both EU and UK with a no-deal Brexit

Commission goes less than mid-way on expensive euro

Much more than a ‘lifeline’ for millions of households, remittances can spur global growth, says UN agency

The fatal consequences of troika’s blind austerity policy

France breaks budget promises once again and the EU’s finance offices are shaking

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

Ambition, transformation, active citizenship: COP24 looks to next year’s big UN Climate Change Summit

Cross-roads

Three scenarios for the future of geopolitics

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

Poorer countries set to be ‘increasingly dependent’ on food imports, says UN food agency report

G20 LIVE: G20 Leaders’ Communiqué Antalya Summit, 15-16 November 2015

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

OECD welcomes French plans to increase and better target foreign aid

EU Council: Private web data to be protected by…abusers

European Young Innovators Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: Europe for StartUps, vision 2020

ECB offers cheaper money despite reactions from Germany

Millions more migrant workers, means countries lose ‘most productive part’ of workforce

Measuring consumer confidence isn’t useful anymore. Here’s what we should do instead

One in three fish caught never gets eaten

First-ever UN report on disability and development, illustrates inclusion gaps

Commission to decide definitely on genetically modified Maize 1507 seed

Syria: UN-backed watchdog says chemical weapon ‘likely used’ in February attack

It’s not your imagination, summers are getting hotter

TTIP fight round 6: last chance for the negotiators to finally open up as they touch the Brussels ring

Combatting terrorism: Parliament sets out proposals for a new EU strategy

Human rights: breaches in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan

In Washington D.C., Guterres signs pact with World Bank, meets US President Trump

These are the most desirable cities for overseas workers

Microplastic and nanoplastic pollution threatens our enviroment. How should we respond?

“A Junior Enterprise is run only by students.. there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems”

Japan to invest in euro values

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