NEWS

Dangers posed by infectious diseases

In a memorandum sent in February to the Center for the Control of Infectious Diseases, the Coordination Committee of Social Organizations claimed that recent laws and Health Ministry circulars that forbid hospital staff from giving free medical care to those without social security and illegal immigrants only led to increased risks, not only to those people themselves but to public health due to infectious and chronic diseases. «This kind of approach to health is a clear violation of human rights,» the report says. It proposes therefore, particularly with regard to infectious diseases, that laws be passed providing free medical care for all, irrespective of their residence status, social security coverage or lack thereof. With regard to immigrants, the report recommends the amendment of articles (44 and 84) in the relevant law that deprives illegal immigrants of the right to seek treatment at hospitals, and which also provides for disciplinary action against doctors who examine them. According to existing legislation, illegal immigrants are entitled to free medical care only for their children and in emergencies. As for infectious diseases, while the law says illegal immigrants should be treated if caught entering the country, the same does not apply to those not already in the country. Nor do those who are legally declared victims of human trafficking have the right to free treatment. A major issue is the lack of training for doctors on human rights issues. Hospital social workers are often unaware that they can claim funds from other organizations for treating those without social security coverage.