Refugee and migrant health – improving access to health care for people in between
Since 2015, Serbia has been a central waypoint along the western Balkans migration route. After the closure of the humanitarian corridor in March 2016, thousands remained trapped in Serbia reluctant to seek asylum, as this would undermine their chances of finding protection in one of the EU Member States. The WHO Country Office for Serbia needed to address the challenges involved in providing health services to persons with an often unregulated legal status and in the context of limited financial and human resources of the national health system. Further difficulties included unmet hygienic, sanitary and health needs of persons voluntarily staying outside state shelters, and the cultural and
language barriers preventing provision of health care. The intervention by the WHO Country Office for Serbia was focused on a coordination role supporting the establishment of a national coordination mechanism for health services which included all state actors as well as NGOs. Thus, the services provided by nongovernmental actors were included in the national public health system with the existing referral system. In parallel, development of Migrant Health Information System was supported, providing a surveillance and monitoring mechanism while further resources were mobilized through the United Nations and partners development framework to support public health services and capacities.
Authors: Z. Pusztai, I. Zivanov, S. Severoni, S. J. Puthoopparambil, H. Vuksanovic, S. G. Stojkovic, V. Egic
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