Health screening for EU immigrants

European Ministers of Health have spoken of the need to carry out health screening on immigrants and refugees entering the EU.


At a two-day council in Athens, they discussed the impact of the financial crisis on the public health system, including the controversial proposal, which some consider violate the fundamental rights of those checked.

It remains to be decided whether screening would be the same for all immigrants or if the systems would be different depending on where they come from.

European Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, said at a press conference “we have legal obligations towards the immigrants, but we are also obliged to protect our own citizens and the public health system.”

Regarding the loss of access to the public health system for illegal immigrants in countries such as Spain and Greece, Borg explained that European States are only obliged to fulfil minimum services, such as providing basic health care and emergency care for children and pregnant women.

The Greek Health Minister, Adonis Yeoryidais, said that Greece doesn’t want it to appear to immigrants that they can come to the country and do as they like, because it would attract millions.

He added that those who had entered illegally should leave and said that migration “shouldn’t be a burden for just one country” and should be divided amongst all.

That’s why the Greek government considers that their country and others such as Italy, which see a high number of immigrants arriving, should be given funds sooner to help deal with the problem.

However, the EU Commission proposes that immigrants need to be able to access better health care, but also need to be controlled more to prevent contagious diseases from spreading.

Regarding the creation of an identification system for immigrants arriving in the EU, Borg explained that it must be voluntary, but added that he is convinced immigrants will collaborate in order to receive better care. 

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