Παρασκευή, 29 Ιουλίου 2016

Recommendation by the Ministry of Health Control and Disease Prevention Centre (KEELPNO) delivered to the Ministry of Migration Policy, to the Ministry of National Defense and to the Ministry of Health about the situation at the refugee hosting facilities from the viewpoint of public health after their on-the-ground visits

21 July 2016 

Recommendation by the Ministry of Health Control and Disease Prevention Centre (KEELPNO) delivered to the Ministry of Migration Policy, to the Ministry of National Defense and to the Ministry of Health about the situation at the refugee hosting facilities from the viewpoint of public health after their on-the-ground visits. 

On KEELPNO's initiative and in the context of the ministerial decision for assessing the state of public health at "accommodation centres" in the Central Macedonia Region, an excellent joint inspection crew was created in cooperation with the Health Department. Inspection took place at 16 refugee reception centres during July 4, 2016 to July 8, 2016. Reports for each of the centres inspected were sent to the Office of the Head of KEELPNO. The recommendation is based on the analysis of these summarized reports resulting in specific proposals. In reference to living conditions, refugees are being accommodated inside warehouses in disuse after industrial use. In all areas there is over-crowding of hundreds of people in combined spaces without adequate ventilation, with litter accumulation and waste, poor hygiene conditions, inadequate provision of potable water and fluctuations in quality and quantity of food. The past uses of these warehouses multiply the exposure potential of these populations to known or unknown risk factors. In the warehouse for example at the Karamanlis Tannery, water from the well and in the surrounding area, that is used for washing, has been estimated high in concentrations of heavy metals (the Greek Army's Veterinary Hospital has been requested to aid in measurements). Also, there are semi-damaged asbestos plates on the roof of the warehouse burdening inhaled air with asbestos fibres. The biggest problem is that all the centres are in close range, both to major breeding grounds of the Anopheles mosquito (Thessaloniki rice paddies, the Galliko River estuary bed, the Kalochori lagoon), every year consistently capturing a very significant flourishing population of the Anopheles as well as to smaller breeding grounds adjacent which are highly productive.  

Summary-proposals 
From the perspective of Public Health, the overall picture of the hosting centres is particularly worrying. Their selection and placement took place without even requesting the opinion of health services. Long-term residence of these primarily healthy populations in such conditions multiplies the chances of the occurrence of foodborne and waterborne epidemics as well as transmittable by disease transmitters (mosquitos), burdens the overall level of bio-psychosocial health of the population and exposes it to a series of risk factors. Operation of the "accommodation centres", not only due to current organizational and coordination weaknesses, but mainly as a strategic approach (entrenchment of populations outside the urban web with burdened living conditions), should be firstly discontinued for the protection of Public Health. Given the international political framework in addressing the refugee stream, it is clear that it is useless and dangerous for Public Health to treat this as a "crisis of a few months." To recognize this reality also highlights the urgent need to immediately launch the final closure of accommodation centres and the gradual integration of refugees into society. It is proposed to decide for the total closure of the "accommodation centres". Obviously this process should be designed based on their gradual closure and keeping in mind the burden of risk factors (such as at eg. the Karamanlis Tannery and the camps in the fields of rice paddies of Thessaloniki). 

Vice President of the Board  
Alexis Benos 
Professor of Hygiene, Social Medicine and Primary Health Care 

Read the original report at www.keelpno.gr

We thank Angela Vismaya Psarrou for the translation 

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