Are we letting politicians play with migrants’ health?

Avramopoulos 2019

Visit of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship to Washington DC and New York City.European Union, 2019 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service.

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariona Borell, a 22-year-old medical student from Barcelona. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Spain is one of the few lucky countries that has Universal Health Coverage, but it was not like that roughly one year ago (and it is not even now).

In 2011, the main conservative and right-wing party won the elections with absolute majority and, amongst many other actions, in 2012 they decided to revocate the law that guaranteed access to free healthcare for all. The state spent six years where only those who had the supposed privilege of owning a Spanish ID or a working visa were able to access healthcare free of charge. In mid 2018 a vote of no confidence in Mariano Rajoy, our then president, passed and the main center-left party began leading the country instead. Reinstating that law, undoing their predecessors’ decision was one of their first moves as a government, but maintaining certain restrictions and written in a way that is not well defined and still needs a lot of work.

Why is it so easy to deprive people from their basic rights? Can you imagine fearing getting sick because you wouldn’t be able to afford proper healthcare?

This is how many families lived in Spain during those six years. And this struggle is not finished yet. At this very moment it is uncertain if their human right of access to healthcare will be violated or not in the near future. Whoever gets elected has migrants’ fate in their hands.

Do we really want to live in a society where not letting certain groups of people get proper healthcare is an argument used to get to the position of leading said society?

As future health professionals, it is our responsibility to center our advocacy efforts and strategies on making sure that inconsistency and instability of access to healthcare in our country is no longer an issue. We need to ensure that changing or revoking that law is an extremely difficult task to accomplish in order to erase violating people’s fundamental human rights from politicians’ election campaigns.

Access to healthcare should not be a card a minority of people in a position of power can play with.

About the author

Mariona Borell is a 22-year-old medical student from Barcelona. She has participated in
and delivered trainings on various topics related to health, attended Barcelona’s Global
Health Summer School last July and is a Global Health advocate. She has been on multiple IFMSA exchanges and attended various of the federation’s meetings. Those experiences have led her to expand her knowledge of intercultural learning, global health, ethical placements abroad and many other subjects currently not on the medical curricula.

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