Belgium - IOM is today (1/2/13) launching the “Equi-Health” project to improve access to quality health care services for migrants, Roma and other vulnerable ethnic minority groups, including irregular migrants, in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Croatia and Turkey over the next three years.
The EUR 2.55 million projects, co-funded by a direct grant from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), will aim to strengthen the capacity of governments and public sector actors to deliver appropriate health care services, facilitate multi-sectoral dialogue, organize technical consultations, strengthen information systems, and develop harmonized guidelines on different migrant health issues.
Even though European institutions and covenants guarantee the fundamental human right to health for all, regardless of legal status or ethnic background, migrants often face poverty, socio-cultural exclusion and various forms of discrimination, which can have negative effects on their health and well-being.
Migrants have been found to receive inferior health care compared to host communities due to administrative and language barriers. Different health practices, lack of empathy and lack of cultural sensitivity of medical personnel also play a part. Europe's 10-12 million Roma, whose life expectancy is on average 10 years less than their Europeans, frequently experience similar treatment.
For irregular migrants, the situation is often worse. In most EU countries irregular migrants can only access emergency health services and few countries offer primary or specialized care. “Providing appropriate healthcare services for migrants and ethnic minorities should be an important humanitarian obligation and a public health and development concern for all EU countries,” says IOM’s Regional Director for Europe, Bernd Hemingway.
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