Children and pregnant woman in asylum shelters are not getting the care they need
Children and pregnant women in asylum shelters are not only not getting the care they need, they’re not even getting the minimally required care. The situation really has to improve, ten care providers, including pediatricians, psychiatrists, and gynecologists, said in an urgent letter to the State Secretaries of Justice and Public Health. “For pregnant asylum seekers, the chance of a baby dying before, during, or after childbirth is seven times higher than for other pregnant women,” Petra de Jong of the trade association of pediatricians told NOS.
There have been multiple alarming reports and warnings from the Red Cross about the state of healthcare in the asylum shelters and countless reports about children being extra vulnerable. Despite this, little has changed, De Jong said.
Accessibility and quality are the main issues facing care in asylum shelters, De Jong said. For example, not all shelters are run by the same organization, so the same care cannot be provided at all locations.
Families are relocated very often, and crucial information is sometimes lost during these moves. Or people reach the right care provider too late, resulting in the patient needing much more care than if they got attention earlier. For example, a 5-year-old girl was moved three times in as many months. No one noticed how anemic and malnourished she was until she ended up in an emergency room.
That is not only bad for the asylum seekers involved but also very expensive and an extra burden on the care capacity, the care providers said.
“We try to do everything within our capabilities,” said De Jong. “The influx has doubled, but we don’t have twice as many people.”
The care providers are well aware of the staff shortages in the healthcare sector and understand that getting more people is more easily said than done. They, therefore, recommend other ways to improve care for children and pregnant women, like limiting or stopping their relocations. An umbrella body to manage all care in asylum shelters would also help. “This body can identify where the bottlenecks are, create multidisciplinary solutions, and align them with the responsible shelter institutions.”
The care providers would like to discuss their findings with the responsible State Secretaries - Eric van der Burg of Justice and Security and Maarten van Ooijen of Public Health, Welfare, and Sports.