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Health care for refugee children

Thursday pediatric outpatient clinic

Thursday is Sarah’s day at the Pediatric outpatient clinic and she meets refugee children. In the video above Dr Eva Schwienhorst-Stich talks about some of the challenges that affect health care for refugee children.

One of the young patients Sarah meets this Thursday is a 9-year-old boy from Syria who comes with his mother because he has complained of stomach pain every day for the last 6 months. She says it even makes it difficult for him to fall to sleep at night. When Sarah examines him, there are no signs of any serious somatic disease. However, he seems very anxious. He was referred to a child psychologist 3 months ago, but the boy has not received an appointment yet. When Sarah calls the child mental health clinic, they respond that as long as the boy and his family are waiting for their asylum application to be considered, he only has a right to emergency mental health care.

Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.”

Unfortunately, what happens in practice does not always conform with the child’s right to “the highest attainable standard of health”, e.g. due to crowded or poor housing for refugees. In some countries, e.g. Germany, refugee children do not have the same access to non-emergency surgeries or psychotherapy as other children.

Do you think different opportunities for refugee children and other children to enjoy a healthy life can be termed structural violence or is that taking it too far? Why/why not? Please share your opinion below.
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Addressing Violence Through Patient Care

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