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MSF: Greece denies healthcare to seriously ill refugee children on Lesvos

The Greek government is deliberately depriving at least 140 children with chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases of adequate medical care, humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated on Thursday.

The MSF is calling on the Greek government evacuate all severely ill children to the Greek mainland or other EU member states, where they can receive appropriate medical care.

  • Seriously ill children – including those with life-threatening diseases – living on Lesvos, Greece, are being deprived of medical care.
  • The Greek government has also revoked access to public medical care for all 55,000 asylum seekers and people who have arrived undocumented in Greece.
  • MSF urges the Greek government to immediately evacuate all people, prioritising children, who are suffering from chronic, complex and serious diseases.

 In Moria camp, on the island of Lesvos, Greece, the Greek government is deliberately depriving at least 140 children with chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases of adequate medical care. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on the Greek government to act on these grave medical concerns and evacuate all severely ill children to the Greek mainland or other EU member states, where they can receive appropriate medical care.

“We see many children suffering from medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, who are forced to live in tents, in abysmal, unhygienic conditions, with no access to the specialised medical care and medication they need,” says Dr Hilde Vochten, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece. “MSF is in discussions with the Greek authorities in order to transfer children to the mainland for urgent medical care, but despite the fact that some children were screened, none have been transferred yet.”

“The government’s general unwillingness to find a swift, systemic solution for these children, including some babies, is outrageous – it harms their health and could lead to life-long consequences or even death,” Dr Vochten says.

In July 2019, the Greek government revoked access to public healthcare for asylum seekers and undocumented people arriving in Greece, leaving more than 55,000 people without medical care.

Since March 2019, doctors in MSF’s paediatric health centre outside Moria camp on Lesbos have seen more than 270 cases of children suffering from chronic and complex illnesses, such as heart disease, epilepsy and diabetes.

These require specialised treatment, which the MSF health centre is not equipped to provide. The local public hospital on Lesbos is also incapable of providing care for this additional number of patients and some specialised services are not available.

“My daughter, Zahra, is suffering from autism and we live a tiny space with almost no electricity,” says Shamseyeh, from Afghanistan, who lives in Moria camp. “Often in the middle of the night she has seizures and there is no one to help us. I just want to be in a space where my daughter can play like other children and be treated by a good doctor.”

Denying children suffering from serious diseases access to healthcare is just the latest cynical move, and it is truly beyond belief. Tommaso Santo, MSF head of mission in Greece. (full articles in MSF)

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One comment

  1. Many pharmacists are being charged higher prices for basic drugs. The cost for diabetic drugs is minimal in the E.U. Affordable for all diabetics . The medical association for Greece has published that too many anti-biotics are are over used without Doctors prescriptions. The standard of the the health of the average Greek citizen has improved and the elderly are living longer since members of the E. U. and access to earlier diagnosis, vaccinations of young children.
    The refugee camps need a positive strategy to separate women with young children should be separated from single male economic migrants of different cultures for their safety. Thus the local medical institutions can treat the young and move them to safer environments . Doctors without borders who could work better with the local doctors and concerned citizens to identify the fragility , safety of refugees and locals interacting understanding the needs to encourage schooling, play areas , safe areas for these families.