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Realizing the right to health of undocumented immigrants in Europe: legal and social challenges

[conference paper]

Terminski, Bogumil

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Abstract The subject of the analysis presented in this article is the legal context and political debates regarding access of illegal migrants to health care assistance and institutions of public health. Consequences of non-regulated legal status significantly impair or even deny illegal migrants the most basic access to medical care. The main condition of entitlement to specialized medical care is legal residence within a state in accordance with its legal provisions. Fearing a growth in illegal migration and increased expenditure, EU countries are not interested in extending social benefits to irregular migrants. Fearing deportation, dismissal from work and the enormous costs of private health care, they usually do not ask for professional medical assistance. By analyzing the most important health risks for migrants the author has also highlighted the current legal and political debates on this issue. Lawful residence based on migration status and rules governing the welfare state must be coordinated with migrants' access to health care on the basis of universality and non-discrimination. In many EU countries such as Sweden and Denmark, the right of undocumented migrants to free emergency care and more advanced health care is restricted and may be subject to payment. Examining international treaties and explanatory documents from the Council of Europe and the United Nations, I try to analyze relevant international laws affecting several groups of undocumented migrants concerning the right to health and access to health care institutions. This article also highlights activities undertaken in recent years by NGOs with the aim of establishing access to health for undocumented migrants in EU countries and placing this issue on the international agenda.
Keywords Europe; migrant; illegal immigration; health care; medical care; statuary regulation; international law; human rights; asylum seeker; aid agency; social support; migration policy; European Policy; EU
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Health Policy; Law
Free Keywords undocumented migration
Collection Title Proceedings of the 13th World Congress on Public Health
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Publisher Monduzzi Ed.
City Bologna
Page/Pages 12 p.
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications