Europe austerity hits healthcare access: Charity

Europe austerity hits healthcare access: Charity

HomeEuropeEU Tue May 19, 2015 4:57AM

A medical charity says austerity measures imposed by European governments have hit the poorest hardest by restricting access to healthcare.

In its annual survey of European healthcare access, the international humanitarian association, Medecins du Monde (MdM) or Doctors of the World called for every resident in the European Union to have equal access to public health services.

“While the economic crisis and austerity measures have resulted in an overall increase in unmet health needs in most countries, the most destitute… have been hit the hardest,” the charity said.

The report, launched in the UK capital of London, is based on over 22,000 face-to-face consultations last year with patients in the EU member states of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden as well as Switzerland.

The charity said most of its consultations had been with migrants and three-quarters of its patients were from outside the 28-member bloc.

The MdM said the findings showed “a bleak picture of the ‘cradle of human rights,” as 63 percent of those who came for consultations had no free-to-access healthcare coverage.

According to the report, more than half of the children seen had not received proper immunization against tetanus or measles, mumps and rubella. In addition, over half of the pregnant women had not had access to antenatal care before consulting the charity.

The Doctors of the World called on all member states and EU institutions to “ensure universal public health systems built on solidarity, equality and equity, open to everyone living in an EU member state.”

“All children residing in Europe must have full access to national immunization schemes and to pediatric care,” the report read, adding, all pregnant women must have access to adequate care and safe delivery.

Furthermore, seriously ill migrants must be protected from being deported if adequate healthcare cannot be guarantee to the country they are to be sent to, the charity said.

Europe plunged into a financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.

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