We work to ensure that everyone can access healthcare.
Assistance for Migrants, Refugees, and People in Need
Healthcare is recognised as both an individual and collective right under Article 32 of the Italian Constitution. Despite this, many migrants, refugees, settled immigrants, and an increasing number of Italians are struggling to access services provided by the national healthcare system. This is largely due to the combined issues of poverty; marginalisation; a lack of awareness of available health services; logistical difficulties; and cultural or linguistic barriers. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people are at risk of poverty or marginalisation (ISTAT). In order to address these issues, in 2006 EMERGENCY began working in Italy and our presence has steadily grown to address increasing and diversifying demand.
In our Outpatient Clinics, we provide general and specialist medical treatment completely free of charge, as well as nursing, psychological support, and health education. We also help patients gain access to the national healthcare system, helping them understand what their rights are and how to assert them. Through our cultural mediators, we help patients obtain the services to which they are entitled under Italian Law and the Temporary Foreign Resident Code (which grants access to essential services in public facilities). These mediators provide an essential service, informing patients of their rights, helping them to access services offered by the national healthcare system, and accompanying the most vulnerable to medical examinations or check-ups at public hospitals in order to assist them with any difficulties that may be encountered.
EMERGENCY’s Outpatient Clinics are staffed by volunteers and qualified medical personnel, able to issue prescriptions for drugs and perform specialist examinations. The aim of our network of Outpatient Clinics in Italy is to ensure that the most vulnerable do not fall through the cracks, but instead exercise the rights that are guaranteed to them by law.
At present, we run the following Outpatient Clinics:
In 2006 we opened our first Italian Outpatient Clinic in Palermo, after the Provincial Health Authority renovated and donated an existing facility. The idea behind the creation of the Palermo Outpatient Clinic was to offer specialist medical care to migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups, in collaboration with the local health authority.
To date, the Palermo Clinic has delivered 100,472 procedures.
Based on our experiences in Palermo, in December of 2010 we opened a second Outpatient Clinic in Marghera. Patients treated at the clinic are primarily migrants who have arrived from Eastern Europe, Senegal, and Bangladesh. During 2014, we launched a project in collaboration with other organisations to provide homeless patients safe and secure accommodation for the duration of their recoveries, following discharge from our facilities.
In order to overcome the obstacles preventing individuals from accessing adequate medical treatment – such as language barriers or inadequate knowledge of rights to public healthcare – in 2012 we opened an Information Desk for Socio-Medical Assistance in Sassari. Here, our cultural mediators inform patients about their rights; process the paperwork required to obtain access to the public healthcare system; accompany patients during check-ups or examinations in public facilities; and monitor the area to identify individuals or groups who are especially vulnerable.
In 2013 we opened an Outpatient Clinic in Polistena, in the province of Reggio Calabria. The clinic is located in a building confiscated from the mafia and newly designated a cultural centre against organised crime. Most of the clinic’s patients are migrant workers suffering from illnesses caused by the difficult living and working conditions they find themselves enduring. These include musculoskeletal problems, dermatitis, and gastrointestinal infections.
In March of 2015 we opened an Outpatient Clinic in Castel Volturno. The majority of patients at the clinic are migrant workers in the construction and agriculture sectors; who are often exploited by established networks of organised crime. The illnesses we treat most frequently – dermal or tracheal infections; gastrointestinal complaints; and musculoskeletal problems – are a direct consequence of the unsafe living conditions into which our patients are forced. Overcrowding, inadequate sanitation systems, and limited electricity supplies are commonplace. Cases of high blood pressure, and the attendant health problems, are also common. Alongside medical staff, our cultural mediators are always on hand in the Castel Volturno clinic to help patients access the public healthcare to which they are entitled.
In the same year – 2015 – we opened an Outpatient Clinic in Naples where our staff offer free healthcare services and socio-medical counselling. Our doctors and nurses also provide vaccinations; monitor vital health indicators; deliver therapy; and prescribe medications. As elsewhere, our cultural mediators assist those who currently have no access to the national healthcare system.
Our Outpatient Clinic in Brescia opened in July of 2016, and offers specialist medical care and counselling. Cultural mediators and members of EMERGENCY’s regional volunteer group provide information and accompany patients in need to public facilities in order to minimise any linguistic, cultural, or logistical barriers that might otherwise impede access to care.
Started clinical activities: April 2006
Facilities: General medicine, nursing, psychological assistance, paediatrics, socio-medical assistance, medical education. At the Marghera clinic only: Cardiology, dentistry, gynaecology, ophthalmology.
Staff members: 57
Castel Volturno: 36,183
(Data correct as of 31 December, 2018)