Asylum seekers are entitled to the same health care as nationals.1 Under the law, the SAR has the obligation to cover the health insurance of asylum seekers.
In practice, asylum seekers have access to available health care services, but do face the same difficulties as the nationals due to the general state of deterioration in a national health care system that suffers from great material and financial deficiencies.2 In this situation, special conditions for treatment of torture victims and persons suffering mental health problems are not available. According to the law, the medical assistance cannot be accessed if the reception conditions are reduced or withdrawn.
Presently, all reception centres are equipped with consulting rooms and provide basic medical services, but their scope varies depending on the availability of medical service providers in the particular location.
Basic medical care in reception centres is provided either through own medical staff or by referral to emergency care units in local hospitals. As the management of the SAR failed to secure the necessary financing for the services provide to asylum seekers during the period May-September 2015 medical staff, doctor and a nurse were functioning only in Ovcha Kupel shelter in Sofia.
After the riot in November 2016 in Harmanli reception centre, the SAR and the Ministry of Health Care organised mass medical checks and consultation to approximately 3,000 asylum seekers accommodated.3 As a result many health problems were established and referred for treatment, including 300 individuals with scabies.4
- 1. Article 29(5) LAR.
- 2. Open Society Institute, Legal Standards and Arrangements for the Protection of Individual Health Rights and Entitlements, Sofia, October 2011.
- 3. Liberties.eu, ‘Riot in Bulgarian Refugee Camp Caused by Political and Media Manipulation’, 8 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kHRdFH.
- 4. Information provided by the SAR, 66th Coordination meeting.