Greece 1998

Caring for the excluded numbers Between November 96 and January 98, 4,800 people attended an MSF polyclinic in Athens and a smaller one in Thessaloniki. They are intended for those excluded from Greek society, economically and/or socially, mainly immigrants (representing 10% of the population). Whenever possible, MSF ensures their referral to state-run health services. The clinics provide primary health care including antenatal care, dental emergencies and drug prescriptions. Advice on social rights, (e.g. school registration) is intended to raise awareness and encourage integration. A December 1997 decree allows illegal immigrants to register for residence and work permits, but requires medical check-ups. As the decree is open to misinterpretation, MSF works to ensure that those suffering from life-threatening diseases will not be expelled to a country where no treatment is available but allowed to remain "for humanitarian reasons" and that work permits will not be refused to those suffering from a treatable infectious disease.