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The European Union prepares health cards for refugees

20 November 2015 / 16:11:54  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The European Union is preparing to introduce health cards for those refugees who arrive on European territory. The document will be written in English and Arabic and handed out at the reception and identification centres (hot spots). European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukatis made this announcement shortly before the end of his two-day visit to Greece.

The health cards will contain data on the health status of refugees and on their needs for certain types of medical care. "In this way they will be able to seek medical care and will have access to health services in the member states," said the Commissioner.

Yesterday he visited the island of Lesbos and the reception centres for refugees and migrants. "The situation there is difficult, there is no doubt about it. However, I have found out that the people and local authorities are hospitable and ready to help. For me, the attitude of the people of Lesbos to refugees is an example of solidarity and all European countries can learn from it, especially those that are saying they will put fences on their borders. We do not need fences but joint efforts to solve the problem in cooperation with the local communities," stated Andriukatis.

He said he did not receive a request from the Greek government to be granted additional financial aid from the European Union to cope with the refugee influx. "As I indicated during yesterday's meeting with the Greek Minister of Health, considerable funds have already been allocated and Greece has to act as quickly as possible in order to use them."

According to the Commissioner, the funds include 475 million euro from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, 25 million euro that has been allocated in the form of emergency aid and 5 million euro under a variety of health programmes. "To use these funds, Greece must have the necessary administrative capacity. Therefore I recommended that the government reduce the number of administrative procedures and obtain the money for the reception of refugees," said Andriukatis, pointing out that the other EU member states should be encouraged to help in the creation of structures to receive and provide the necessary medical and other materials.

As for the healthcare in Greece, the Commissioner pointed out that its condition today is a consequence of a system that was not well organized even before the crisis. "Even before the crisis, there was a low ratio between the number of patients and that of care-giving medical staff. It is necessary to upgrade the infrastructure using all the opportunities provided by technology and through rational distribution of medical personnel. I told the Minister that this is the right time for Greece to use the funds to completely update the system, including through the introduction of telemedicine services on a mass scale," said the Commissioner.

Asked whether there would be discussions over the request of the former Greek Minister of Health to appoint 13,000 health workers from different specialties to cover the requirements of Greek hospitals, Andriukatis replied that it did not fall within the competence of the European Union.

He urged the health ministers to discuss related issues in the Council of Ministers, and not during the meetings of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council ECOFIN, so that they could consider the problems within the six-month programmes and achieve a productive dialogue.

Tags: SocietyRefugees and migrantsEuropean health card for RefugeesCommissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukatis
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