Geflüchtete weltweit und ihre medizinische Versorgung
When the most necessary things are missing
Millions of people around the world are on the run. Most of them find shelter in developing regions, where healthcare is particularly precarious.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), around 80 million people, or roughly one in a hundred, were refugees worldwide in 2019. People cross national borders or flee within their home countries - from war and violence, from natural disasters, because of political persecution, because they are hungry, have no prospects and no livelihood.
Between 80 and 90 percent of people find shelter in poor countries and developing regions. Turkey, along with Pakistan and Uganda, provides shelter to the most people worldwide. In contrast, the number of those coming to Europe has steadily declined since the refugee movement in 2015. Take Germany, for example: in 2015, around one million people were still seeking safety and protection in this country. In 2019, 165,000 people arrived; in 2020, there were only 122,000 due to the Corona pandemic.
Health is a human right
The reception of refugees is accompanied by numerous problems and tasks. Health care is one of the key issues. Health is a human right. According to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention (GRC), refugees and displaced persons should receive the same health care as people in the country of refuge.
Refugees’ health needs are often different from those of residents of the country in which they are sheltering. People on the run are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases and injuries. They are often severely burdened by experiences of violence and the flight itself. Life in camps and asylum shelters with poor hygiene, unbalanced nutrition and hunger entails further health problems.
When health care is poor or overburdened for the population of the country of refuge, refugees rarely receive adequate medical assistance. This has consequences: Illnesses that could have been treated well if treated quickly become chronic. Children who are not vaccinated are inadequately protected against infections and their health implications - and this with an increased risk of infection in the camps and asylum facilities. Chronic diseases that can normally be stabilized by simple means lead to complications and increased mortality.
The psyche is often neglected
Germany has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world. Asylum seekers and refugees receive a kind of basic care during the first 15 months of their stay, which at least covers the treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. In addition to pregnancy examinations and birth care, vaccinations are also included in the health benefits. However, aid organizations and professional associations criticize the inadequate psychosocial care for refugees.
When countries of refuge cannot guarantee simple medical assistance - as happens time and again - non-governmental organizations (NGOs), church projects and charities are the only ones who take care of the health of those who have fled. Only by providing more support to the health systems there will refugees have access to life-saving and basic health care.