NGO wants improved medical care for migrants

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

An elderly Venezuelan receives primary medical care during a special day carried out by La Casita in Arima. – Photo by Grevic Alvarado

The NGO La Casita Hispanic Cultural Centre has asked the TT authorities to address the challenges faced by refugees and migrants in accessing healthcare services.

La Casita issued a public statement through its social media for World Health Day, April 7.

“These marginalised populations often endure arduous journeys, fleeing from communities affected by war, conflict, natural disasters, and economic crises, only to encounter barriers to healthcare upon arrival.”

It said refugees and migrants constitute a diverse group with unique health needs that may differ from those of the host populations.

“Their experiences of displacement and migration, coupled with restrictive entry and integration policies, expose them to various health risks, including communicable diseases, injuries, mental health issues, and reproductive health complications. Despite these challenges, TT lacks a comprehensive national policy consistent with international standards governing migrants’ access to ongoing healthcare services.”

La Casita believes the current healthcare policy presents several specific challenges for refugees and migrants: immunisation requirements for children, language barrier, legal status and documentation, stigma and discrimination, financial constraints, limited knowledge of healthcare systems, cultural differences, fear of detention or deportation and health literacy.

“These challenges underscore the urgent need for TT to develop comprehensive policies ensuring equitable healthcare access for all migrants. The existing policy falls short in providing holistic care, and healthcare professionals may feel constrained in offering additional services due to policy restrictions.”

On this World Health Day let us reaffirm our commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of refugees and migrants in TT.”

It said health knows no borders, and everyone has a collective responsibility to ensure refugees and migrants have access to the healthcare they need and deserve.