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

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

Food safety critical to development and ending poverty: FAO deputy chief

Free flow of non-personal data: Parliament approves EU’s fifth freedom

Eurostat overturns Commission’s assessment of the economy

1 in 7 people would choose not to fly because of climate change

Here’s how tech is revolutionising transport for low-income communities in urban Africa

3 ways to fix the way we fund humanitarian relief

Debunked: 5 myths about the future of work

EU Parliament semi worried over democratic deficit

Mental health of health professionals: the alter ego

The battle for the 2016 EU Budget to shake the Union; Commission and Parliament vs. Germany

Robots will soon be a necessity but they won’t take all our jobs

The reason the world showed limited empathy to the Orlando victims

Germany resists Macron’s plan for closer and more cohesive Eurozone; Paris and Berlin at odds

Remembering Kofi Annan

Lack of basic water facilities risks millions of lives globally: UN health agency

How privacy tech is redefining the data economy

Recognize, celebrate and ‘stand in solidarity’ with persons with albinism

The hostilities in south and eastern Ukraine resume; where could they lead?

LEAGUE OF YOUNG VOTERS LAUNCHES TOOL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COMPARE POLITICAL PARTIES AHEAD OF EU ELECTIONS

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers

The European Sting writes down the history LIVE from G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

‘No-deal’ Brexit preparedness: European Commission takes stock of preparations and provides practical guidance to ensure coordinated EU approach

Ercom, cutting-edge Telco solutions from Europe

The Fourth Industrial Revolution must not leave farming behind

Mosul’s ‘3D contamination’ adds to challenges of deadly mine clearance work

Ship Recycling is the Commission’s Titanic

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

EU is not only obsessed with Facebook but also blaims now innocent websites using social plugins to serve democratic dialogues?

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

China is a renewable energy champion. But it’s time for a new approach

Alarming number of Ebola deaths in DRC a ‘rallying cry’ to scale up treatment

Parliament to ask for the suspension of EU-US deal on bank data

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Greece did it again

It’s time for global businesses to accept local responsibility

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

CO2 can be a valuable raw material, not just a climate killer. Here’s how

The US calls off globalization, targets Germany. Paris offer to Berlin comes at a cost

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’ will be squandered, warns Guterres, unless social, economic, environmental challenges are met

Assembly of European Regions @ European Business Summit 2014: Made in Europe – Made of Regions

Humans aren’t made for repetition – it’s time AI took over manufacturing

Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

Boat made of recycled plastic and flip-flops inspires fight for cleaner seas along African coast

Cyclone Idai: emergency getting ‘bigger by the hour’, warns UN food agency

OECD Secretary-General Gurría welcomes announcement of new trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament should ask Council to act, say committee MEPs

Implementation of tax transparency initiative delivering concrete and impressive results

UN civil society conference to focus on sustainable solutions for challenges of urban life

State aid: Commission approves €431 million public support for cleaner transport in German cities

OECD, UN Environment and World Bank call for a radical shift in financing for a low-carbon, climate-resilient future

Why schools should teach the curriculum of the future, not the past

Brussels to tear down the trade wall with Mexico as opposed to Trump’s “walls”

Shanghai has tough new recycling rules – and it will stop collecting trash from communities that don’t comply

8000 young people in the EP in Strasbourg: “a breath of fresh air for EU democracy”

Is Erdogan losing game and match within and without Turkey?

This tiny new grain could save the planet

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