Sweden: Caring for refugees

Access to health care is severely restricted for this group. Undocumented migrants can only obtain "immediate" care. This policy is widely misinterpreted to mean that only the most urgent care should be offered, although even for this, payment is required. The Swedish health care system has no budget to cover the cost of care for these people and they are sometimes identified by health care staff to the police. A pregnant undocumented immigrant has no officially sanctioned access to a midwife and cannot receive maternity care from the national health care system unless she has the 18,000 euros needed to cover delivery costs. MSF began working in Sweden to organize clinicians to provide care for this population. MSF is working with volunteer doctors (many with previous MSF experience) who conduct examinations and treat undocumented immigrants from within the country's health care system. MSF's goal is to raise the quality of services provided to this group and to challenge the inevitability of their receiving second-class care. Because the supply of medicines is controlled by a state monopoly, leaving some people without access to them, MSF also promotes the idea of improving access to essential medicines as part of its work. MSF has worked in Sweden since January 2004. INTERNATIONAL STAFF: 0 NATIONAL STAFF: 2.5 (full-time equivalents)