PM 07.04.2019 World Health Day: Refugees have a third class health coverage, where is universal health coverage for everyone, everywhere?

2019 World health day focuses on Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere but we are seeing how laws are racist and discriminating also on health issues, like „Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz“ passed in 1993, which was established to discourage asylum seekers from coming to or staying in Germany.

For over two years “Women in Exile” has been working on a health project regarding refugee women. The project was started because we realised many women suffer from gynecological problems. Most of them have no right to access an insurance coverage and they are offered with a temporary cover which only helps by granting minor treatment. Even when going to gynecologists they don’t know how to account for it financially, making the women go through a tough time with their bodies.

According to Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz only the treatment of acute diseases or pain is covered, specialised treatment is carried out only if the person goes through the bureaucratic process of moving from one official to the other trying to get consent. Going through this process does not mean they will get the specialised treatment and tends to make the women vulnerable as they fight for their right to stay and against the living conditions in the camps.

During our empowerment workshops, we got to know a lot of cases especially from women who had cysts and were operated, but also women with heavy bleedings, myomas which even after operations they keep on recurring. We started accompanying some of the women for second opinions to organisations working on reproductive health..

Part of the empowerment given to refugee women includes a better knowledge of their bodies and illnesses associated with them. We have learned that cysts problems keep on reiterating, making some of the refugee women go through multiple operations, since they do not have information on alternative treatment. We have learnt the self-examination of the breast and talked about problems around the uterus and other diseases like PCO and endometriosis, which touched on the topic of reproduction.

During the health workshops we provide trustful and useful information that will help the women to be aware of their health issues, question first medical opinions and know their rights regarding health.

Together with gynecological related problems, we learnt that these are also symptoms connected to the psychological and traumatic conditions the women face on their way to Germany and the anxiety of having to live in the lagers with no perspectives. Like we discovered that cysts often appear in times of stress.

So one can make the conclusion: “the lager, the system, the racism makes us sick!”

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