Accessing healthcare: steps towards integration

How do we access healthcare if we cannot communicate with our doctors?

One of the four major areas where FATIMA aims to support its beneficiaries concerns the introduction to and orientation among local social services, like healthcare, available to them and their families.  

The health system is often difficult to understand even for local residents, let alone for women migrants who face numerous other barriers, such as language. But being familiar with the health system of the host country is crucial to successful integration. 

For this reason, participants of the FATIMA Project in Ljubljana recently attended the “Accessing the Healthcare System” workshop which covered many important aspects of the Slovenian healthcare system. They learned how to register with their local GP, how to arrange appointments and also what to do in case of an emergency – what numbers to call and what to expect.  

New residents’ ability to engage with healthcare was identified as one of the main challenges to integration from the first design stages of FATIMA . Residents in all countries told us that new migrants were struggling to access necessary care and that it was affecting their own health and that of their children. Some came from countries where healthcare was expensive, and they didn’t realise that in Europe it was free or low-cost in comparison. Others came from places where public health provision was typically poor quality, so would not trust public doctors. Having poor health affects their daily lives, including their ability to learn, to socialise and to work. 

This article was written by Bianca Manacorda.

The FATIMA project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

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