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AVERROES project– equal access to healthcare

Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers are at a higher risk of health problems and tend to have worse access to health care than the general population.

The Averroes project funded by the EU public health programme and run by Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World International Network, organisation aimed to improve access to healthcare for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in the EU and to highlight the plight of these vulnerable groups.

Health for Undocumented Migrants and Asylum Seekers (HUMA)

The project supported the development of a network of non-governmental organizations called HUMA, offering direct access to healthcare, now covering 16 countries in the EU. HUMA advocates the rights of migrants and asylum seekers to healthcare and treatment without any discrimination on the basis of legal status or financial means.

Raising awareness of the plight of migrants

Averroes has published three reports on migrant health. By working directly with the migrants, the real state of their heath was determined and the barriers to healthcare documented.

The project has brought the issue to the attention of national and EU institutions, health professionals and the public. It did this through conferences, publications and a dedicated website.

The ‘Exile, Exit’ photo exhibition of Médecins du Monde toured Europe illustrating the living conditions and difficulties faced by undocumented migrants trying to access healthcare.

Declaration against discriminatory access to heath care

In 2010 and 2011 inspired by the Averroes network, over 140 European organisations representing over 3 million health professionals signed a declaration against discriminatory access to heath care.

The declaration asks for four objectives:

• health professionals should determine, in all circumstances, the type and level of care that patients need, using as sole basis their clinical judgment, without regard to the patients’ status;

• in cases where individuals are unable to pay, healthcare for undocumented migrants should be paid for by public funds;

• no illegal immigrant would be reported to the authorities whilst seeking treatment;

• health professionals call for the removal of any and all institutional impediments that prevent them from providing health care to vulnerable groups, this includes undocumented migrants.

The action of Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World contributed to the adoption of a European Parliament’s resolution in March 2011 calling on Member States to tackle health inequalities for undocumented migrants in accessing healthcare.

Averroes has demonstrated there is a definite need to provide healthcare and protection from deportation for seriously ill undocumented migrants in the EU, who cannot access adequate healthcare in their country of origin.

More information:

Averroes project

Exile Exit? Exhibition

European Commission – Social Environment