Athens – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and partner Médecins du Monde (MdM) announced today (5 December) that together they have rapidly provided primary health care services to over 1,200 migrants and refugees on the Greek mainland. The services were provided via mobile medical units during a two-month period between September and October 2017.
The medical teams also conducted over 3,400 primary health care consultations – an average of almost 80 daily – since the EU-funded project began in September. Consultations cover examinations, prescriptions of medicines and referrals to other facilities for secondary care in three open-accommodation facilities in Greece.
Gianluca Rocco, IOM Greece Chief of Mission, explained that thousands of migrants and refugees currently living in Greece face health issues that require immediate care. However, they often face difficulties in accessing the National Health System outside the accommodation facilities where they reside.
"The medical assistance is very much needed,” Rocco said. “Improving the health of migrants and refugees is a fundamental step in helping them begin to rebuild their lives.”
“We are collaborating closely with MdM in Greece and supporting the Greek Government and authorities to alleviate suffering, protect human dignity and safeguard the human right to health,” he added.
IOM and MdM also are working closely to ensure a smooth transition and handover of health services to the Greek Government from 2018, and they welcome the integration of migrants and refugees into the national healthcare system.
“We are very satisfied with our cooperation with the International Organization for Migration and the European Commission,” said Christos Dimopoulos, Protection and Integration Projects Manager of Médecins du Monde in Greece.
“Through this project, we have been able to provide needed health care services to vulnerable migrants and refugees while also moving towards handing over their health coverage to the National Health System,” Dimopoulos explained.
The mobile medical units are comprised of general practitioners, pediatricians, dentists, nurses, interpreters and drivers who provide primary healthcare services five days per week in morning and afternoon shifts. They work in open centres in Thermopylae, Serres and Oinofyta.
The units conduct health consultations and provide primary health care services for minor medical issues such as viral infections, colds and injuries. They also prescribe medicine and monitor people with chronic illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes, respiratory problems and gynecological health problems.
For people in need of secondary health care, MdM medical units facilitate referrals to hospitals by organizing appointments, and by providing transportation and escorts where possible.
"Health care is essential for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, as it is for every person,” said Evangelos Petratos, the European Commission's Humanitarian Expert in Greece. “For this reason, the European Commission supports its humanitarian partners in the country in their efforts to provide them with primary health assistance.”
“We are glad to see the achievements so far and the good cooperation between our partners and the Greek health authorities,” he continued.
The joint IOM - MdM project is funded by the European Commission.
For more information please contact Christine Nikolaidou at IOM Greece, Email: email@example.com, Tel: +30 210 99 19 040 ext. 248;
Nikolaos Kallakos at MdM Greece, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +30 210 32 36 224;
Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela at the European Commission, Email: email@example.com, Tel. +32 22 96 53 22, Mobile: +32 46 07 91 716
Daniel Puglisi, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +32 22 96 91 40, Mobile: +32 46 07 67 374