A long time ago I did a locum stint in an asylum seekers centre in The Netherlands.
What struck me was the vast amount of physical and mental illnesses like depression, malnourishment, and neglected chronic and infectious diseases, together with uncertainty, fear, cultural differences and challenging language barriers.
It all came back to me when I saw the people on board of the small, fragile vessel that earlier this year sailed into the Geraldton harbour.
The sad reality is that many asylum seekers, including children, spend many years in immigration detention facilities. This creates more (mental) health problems. AMA president Steve Hambleton said at the National Press Conference this week:
(…) let’s stay out of where they are from and why they’re here and all the other stuff. Once we are in control or once we take responsibility for people, we should be providing them with first-rate health care.
Whatever the reason for their dangerous journey, let’s hope these men, women and children will eventually find a place where they can live a safe, healthy and peaceful life.
In the meantime, while they are here, we have to take care of them. We are responsible for their health and well-being, including appropriate access to quality healthcare.