France: MSF monitors implementation of health law

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The right to free access to health care has remained a central issue for MSF in France, with the focus on pending problems: access for young people (not yet a reality), discriminatory admissions regulations, standardization of waiting procedures for access to care, the rights of asylum seekers, and specific structural problems inherent in the application of the law. Paris A medical and social welfare center at Paris's East train station is open to young people in precarious situations. In 2000, MSF provided 3,000 medical consultations and more than 1,000 social welfare interviews. MSF works with partners to welcome mainly young people at risk in refuges in the countryside and in other urban areas. A similar project is in place in Lille. Street teams, launched in 1995, continue meeting vulnerable people who have lost every contact with the health and social system. MSF seeks out people who are living and sometimes prostituting themselves in the street, and invites them to benefit from the medical and social center. These young people often suffer from multiple drug dependency and are at great risk for diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. MSF provides Distribox distributors of sterile injection materials to pharmacies in eight districts of Paris. Marseilles Thanks to the launching of the CMU, an MSF medical and social welfare unit in Marseilles itself could be closed, after providing 60,000 consultations and 20,000 social welfare interviews since 1988. MSF has broadened its activities in l'Etang de Berre, near Marseilles, to embrace not only medical care but all social welfare rights. A medical and social services facility assists children over six and adolescents, in this area that has been cut off from the city, where many people (especially foreigners) live in precarious conditions. An MSF social and legal team continues to visit temporary immigration shelters around the country. In 2000, the team conducted a lobbying effort on behalf of sick people arriving from abroad, to make all countries of the European Union aware of the right of these people to health care and to protection against deportation. CAPTION: This asylum seeker holds herself apart from the group at St. Mary's school in Brussels, Belgium. She and other asylum seekers were sheltered at the school while they waited - often for days - to put in their asylum application at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Staff: 30