Restricted health care entitlements for child migrants in Europe and Australia

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Liv Stubbe Østergaard, Marie Norredam, Claire Mock-Munoz de Luna, Mitch Blair, Sharon Goldfeld, Anders Hjern

Background: More than 300 000 asylum seeking children were registered in Europe alone during 2015. In this study, we examined entitlements for health care for these and other migrant children in Europe and Australia in a framework based on United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Methods: Survey to child health professionals, NGO's and European Ombudspersons for Children in 30 EU/EEA countries and Australia, supplemented by desktop research of official documents. Migrant children were categorised as asylum seekers and irregular/undocumented migrants.

Results: Five countries (France, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain) explicitly entitle all migrant children, irrespective of legal status, to receive equal health care to that of its nationals. Sweden and Belgium entitle equal care to asylum seekers and irregular non-EU migrants, while entitlements for EU migrants are unclear. Twelve European countries have limited entitlements to health care for asylum seeking children, including Germany that stands out as the country with the most restrictive health care policy for migrant children. In Australia entitlements for health care are restricted for asylum seeking children in detention and for irregular migrants. The needs of irregular migrants from other EU countries are often overlooked in European health care policy.

Conclusion: Putting pressure on governments to honour the obligations of the UNCRC and explicitly entitle all children equal rights to health care can be an important way of advocating for better access to primary and preventive care for asylum seeking and undocumented children in Australia and the EU.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume27
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)869-873
Number of pages5
ISSN1101-1262
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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