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Europe austerity measures are impacting on healthcare and increasing xenophobia

Wednesday, April 17th 2013 - 07:41 UTC
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Doctors of the World Spain Alvaro Gonzalez: “dismantling and destruction of the welfare state” Doctors of the World Spain Alvaro Gonzalez: “dismantling and destruction of the welfare state”

Austerity measures are impacting European Union healthcare services and causing an increase in xenophobia, warn the humanitarian group Doctors of the World this week highlighting Spain as a potential hotspot.

“Rising unemployment and poverty across Europe have generated extreme-right statements stigmatising migrants” stated the Doctors of the World 2012 report ‘Access to healthcare in Europe in times of crisis and rising xenophobia’.

The report, reported in the online newspaper EurActiv, shows a rise in xenophobic acts and regulations in Greece and Spain as well as other European countries.

Dr Nikitas Kanakis from Doctors of the World Greece said “xenophobia and healthcare always go together”. He added “it’s about dignity and to live safely without fear”.

In Spain, the government has restricted access to care for undocumented migrants in a bid to cut costs. Now people can only access the system if they are working, are active or have the public healthcare card.

Dr Alvaro Gonzales from Doctors of the World in Spain said: “This has led to a dismantling and a destruction of the welfare state and the public healthcare system.”

“This affects a group of the population which is very vulnerable, the undocumented migrants, and it is important to highlight the fact that it is an ideological issue because it can’t be supported from a human right point of view. It’s completely unfair and goes against international treaties,” he adds.

The report shows that across all the countries included 20% of patients are reported to have been denied access to healthcare in the past year, with 62% of people being denied access in Spain. In accordance with medical ethics, all patients, regardless of their social status or ethnic origin have the right to healthcare say Doctors of the World.

“We call for national public health systems built on solidarity, equality and equity, open to all those living in the EU, rather than systems based on a profit rationale. We ask for a coherent EU public health policy for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases” concludes the report.


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  • LEPRecon

    Xenophobia and healthcare always go together???!???!???

    I wonder what drugs this man is on.

    Poverty, unemployment lead to 'xenophobia' due to quite often misplaced worry of the 'foreigners are taking our jobs' myth. Usually put about by parties who like to stir up trouble, a bit like the Daily Mail.

    Perhaps this is what is or has happened in Spain, but I believe his conclusions are based on very scanty data and are more his theories than anything else.

    Apr 17th, 2013 - 10:16 pm 0
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