Family doctors organisation, WONCA Europe, together with the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and the Council for Occupational Therapists for the European Countries, are calling for improved efforts to address the health needs of refugees.
In a joint statement, prepared for the 67th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe, the organisations said while the health and social inequalities among migrants and displaced people are well known, “they are still staggering”.
They said existing policies must be revised to promote "accessibility and appropriateness" of healthcare services for refugees and eliminate exposure to social exclusion. In particular, they said, attention must be paid to the needs of vulnerable groups of older people, those with disabilities and mental health problems, and patients needing palliative care. This should extend to refugees who have just arrived and those who have been living in settlements for many years.
The groups also reiterated an earlier call for the implementation of pre-departure medical examinations, proper communication, coordination protocols and reporting for post-arrival follow-up to guarantee the safe travel and resettlement of refugees based on health status.