Failed asylum seekers in Wales will get free health care from mid-JulyBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2704 (Published 06 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2704
All rapid responses
Fortunately, the authorities in Wales have succeeded to
change the regulations so that asylum status denied asylum-
seekers can access free health care. Unfortunately, this is
not the case in England where such people are expected to
pay for their own health care.
Apparently, years of xenophobic policy formulations by the
politicians, and the systematic lies that they fed the
public have alienated the masses by robbing them from their
historical and traditional humanism.
Extending the health care to the asylum-seekers whom have
been denied the legal refugee status is very important and
touching move and I congratulate the authorities in Wales.
It is equally very unfortunate that policymakers and the
health authorities in England are unable to share the same
humanism that we have seen in Wales.
The question is why not? Interestingly, this can indicate
that something is badly wrong in England. Irresponsible
media misrepresent the immigrants and refugees as the
scapegoats for the ills and failures of the society.
Ordinary people are misled by the reckless tabloid press and
ultra-right wing politicians who intentionally distort the
facts for their own narrow political gains.
In exchange, the politicians who mainly care for their own
reelection follow the misperception of the getting tough
with the refugees. As the result, this is how the falsehood
and xenophobia are recycled back to the society, and the
society becomes irrational and intolerant time after time.
This is a familiar pattern in history.
Similarly, the irresponsible politicians and policymakers at
state authorities uncritically misuse these sorts of anti-
immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments in order to satisfy
their own drives. All that such bureaucrats offer as excuses
for their denial policy are senseless bureaucratic red tape,
which is worth nothing.
Indeed, what kind of a society would deprive the neediest
people from health services i.e. by asking the people who
have no money to pay for their own health care? Foremost,
what kind of a society would deny health coverage for its
own refugees i.e. with or without formal refugee status?
The matters such as who has or hasn’t received the refugee
status are bureaucratic formalities that should not concern
the state and health care authorities who should care for
This is mainly based on the principal biomedical practice
and ethics that health of all individuals in a given society
are essentially interlocked. Why English authorities fail to
acknowledge this very basic fact?
Are the refugees humans or less/non-humans? We can easily
recall that such well-defined distinctions in treating
people as humans and less-humans belong to the totalitarian
states at past and present. We saw how people were treated
as humans and less/non-humans in Nazi Germany and the former
Apparently, not much has changed since. We see how people
are inhumanly treated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, China,
Mr. Putin’s Russia, and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Iran. It doesn’t
matter how you base your definition of a human and a less-
human. The very fact that you make such a distinction will
qualify you as a distinguished honorary racist.
Anthropologists and sociologists usually examine the level
of ethic and social tolerance, humanitarian solidarity, and
social coherence in democratic states by using indicators
such as the rights and equality of the ethic and religious
groups and the status of women and children with the
mainstream social group(s)i.e. especially in legal issues
and daily life routines.
I suggest that treating asylum-seekers and refugees, and the
policy formulations towards such groups both in theory and
practice, can be also used as a reliable indicator to
explore the depth of xenophobic sentiments, indifference,
inhumanity, and alienation in our modern democratic
Dr. Kazem Zarrabi,
Competing interests: No competing interests