Appropriate delivery of health care for refugee and migrant children: Development of educational tools for health professionals, developed by the European project EU-VET CARE

May 24, 2021

Providing improved health care for refugee/migrant children and unaccompanied minors is the main objective of the EU-VETCARE project, "Strengthening capacities for better health care to refugee and migrant children”. The project aims to design training materials for the vocational training of health professionals, providing healthcare to this vulnerable group. EU-VET CARE is co-financed by the European Union's ERASMUS+ Programme. In the research, carried out within the EU-VET CARE project through focus groups discussions in five EU countries, participated health care professionals and representatives from non-governmental organizations. The project consortium comprises organizations from 5 European countries. In Greece the project is implemented by Prolepsis Institute and Faros. Other organizations are the Ethno-Medical Centre (Programme Coordinator, Germany), Cyprus University of Technology, Zadag ltd (Italy), Universitat de Valencia (Spain).

Focus group discussion results showed that health professionals face many problems and shortcomings in the provision of care to migrant and refugee children, with many reporting symptoms of occupational burnout.

Lack of medical and vaccination history, lack of epidemiological data in the country of origin,     and bureaucracy seem to be the most important problems as reported by health professionals. Insufficient number of translators and cultural mediators along with the lack of intercultural competencies are also among the main barriers reported by health professionals.

The research also showed that health professionals have particular need for further education and training on issues related to legal frameworks, protocols for working with children, management of occupational burnout, interdisciplinary collaboration and intercultural competences. Last but not least, participants reported the need of acquiring skills for effective communication with children, recognition of psychological trauma and addiction issues (especially alcohol and substance use).      

Since 2015, Greece and other European countries have experienced a large influx of refugee/migrant flows due to conflict in the Middle East and poverty in many other parts of the world. Migrant/refugee children and especially unaccompanied minors face many risks during their journey to Europe, which makes them particularly vulnerable and in need of special care and support. Additionally, poor living conditions in the host country, lack of access to health services and education, place an extra burden on their mental and physical health. Public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic make them even more vulnerable due to insufficient access to clean water and basic hygiene conditions. Furthermore, delays in asylum applications lead many migrant/refugee children away from safe zones, many ending up on the streets and alone.

Prolepsis Institute and Faros from Greece are involved in the development of educational material, that will fill the aforementioned gaps and contribute to improving the provision of health care to refugee and migrant children and unaccompanied minors. The material developed under the EUVETCARE project will be available for free through the project’s e-learning platform accessible from the project website https://www.euvetcare.eu/.  

For more information please visit the following websites:

EU-VETCARE website: euvetcare.eu

Prolepsis Institute - EU Programme -VETCARE: https://www. prolepsis. gr/gr/programs/eu-vet-care-strengthening-capacities-for-better-health-care-to-refugee-and-migrant-children

EU -VETCARE Facebook page : facebook. com/euvetcare