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Stop denying migrants their fundamental right to healthcare

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 12 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1971
  1. Jonathan M Clarke, medical doctor, Kennedy scholar, and master of public health candidate
  1. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  1. jclarke{at}

Undocumented migrants have particular healthcare needs, including those related to torture, but countries are restricting access

Many people think that all migrants to Europe have meaningful access to healthcare. As article 35 of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights recognises, “Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment”.1

But the reality is different: as the European Parliament acknowledged in 2013, “Access to the most basic healthcare services, such as emergency care, is severely limited, if not impossible, for undocumented migrants on account of the identification requirement, the high price of treatment and the fear of being detected and reported to the authorities.”2

Two thirds of the 15 648 migrants attending clinics throughout Europe in 2014 run by the charity …

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