Α study tour on immigration and health issues took place on 19-23 March in Turkey, organized by the Migration and Health Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Office together with the WHO Office in Turkey and in cooperation with the Τurkish Ministry of Health.
The main purpose of the tour was to inform participants from Italy, Serbia, Greece and Sweden, about the provision of primary health care to refugees and migrants settled in the neighboring country.
By decision of the Secretary General of Public Health, Yiannis Baskozos, KEELPNO participated with Kassiani Melou and Dimitris Patestos, PHILOS sub-action 2 manager and coordinator for the Northeastern Aegean islands of PHILOS programme, respectively, as well as a representative of the Ministry for Migration Policy.
During the tour, a meeting was held with representatives of the Turkish Ministry of the Interior on Immigration Policy issues, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with WHO officials in Turkey. The participants then went to Izmir where a meeting with representatives of local public health authorities and the coastguard took part.
During those visits, the planning and implementation of the programme for dealing with the refugee crisis in Turkey which currently hosts more than 4.5 million refugees in most of Syrian nationality, was presented.
Participants were able to visit health centers for refugees and migrants as well as health centers that also function as training centers for Syrian healthcare professionals in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul, ascertaining their uniform mode of operation and the particularities of each geographical area.
In summary, the primary health care programme designed and implemented in the neighboring country provides for the creation of health centers for refugees and immigrants that will have the same structure and function similar to the family-type health centers serving Turkish citizens.
Program’s innovation is the recruitment of Syrians (doctors and paramedical staff) to those centers in order to provide health care services to their compatriots.
In conclusion, it is a pioneering programme that helps to improve the health care provided to Syrian refugees and integrate them into the neighboring country. Yet there are issues to be clarified, such as safeguarding the labor rights of Syrian health professionals, civil liability in the event of a medical error, etc.