Health care is free for asylum seekers in Denmark, but health clinics in Copenhagen and Aarhus take care of the undocumented migrants in Denmark.
As an asylum seeker in Denmark, you have the right to be treated if a health problem is deemed as ”necessary or urgent”. As a rule of thumb, all tests are done to diagnose a condition and see if it can be without a permission from the Danish Immigration Service. Appointments with the specialists, primary consultations with the psychologist or psychiatrist, midwife (for pregnant women) and so forth can be arranged without permission. If you seek asylum in Denmark, access to health care is free of charge.
Denmark has a universal health care system financed through taxes and it covers all persons registered with the Civil Registration Number (CPR). A health insurance card is issued to all persons officially living in the country by the municipality. A health insurance card must be presented when obtaining treatment and all contacts with health care system are registered under the person’s CPR-number. Asylum seekers are given a temporary CPR-number and extensive care is offered to persons officially recognized in the system, but there has been very little focus on the undocumented migrants’ access to care.
Medical help for undocumented migrants
Undocumented migrants can be individuals who have been rejected for asylum and gone underground to avoid deportation, overstayed their visas, entered in the country illegally or have parents with irregular migratory status.
Undocumented migrants in Europe face difficulties accessing health care, including maternal and infant care, emergency care, medication and treatment for chronic diseases. Denmark has ratified the international human rights treaties that include the right to access health care services. Undocumented migrants in Denmark have the right to emergency care, while additional care is restricted and may be subject to payment.
The health clinics for undocumented migrants in Copenhagen and in Århus are their hope. These clinics are run by Danish Red Cross, The Danish Refugee Council and the Danish Medical Association. The clinic is based on international human rights and convention – the right for all people to receive the health care.
Vibeke Lenskjold is project manager and she tells: ”The clinic’s service do not only cover undocumented migrants, but also these women, who are looking for family reunification, because during that process they don’t have a CPR-number and therefore not access to public health care”.
Network of volunteer doctors, nurses and translators
“Consultation is free in both clinics and medication is free, if the patient has no money. The clinic tries to make an arrangement, to pay every second time for the needed medicine for people with chronic diseases. It is good for people with chronic diseases to take the responsibility of their own disease and find a way to pay their medicine, because all people pay for their medicine in Denmark. The clinics have doctors, nurses, midwifes and physiotherpists and in Copenhagen there is a dentist for emergency only. If a person needs a special doctor and I don’t have a special doctor on the list, I’ll ask another volunteer doctor if they know anybody specialized in the needed field.” says Vibeke Lenskjold.
-What if a person speaks only his/her native language?
“We have translators by phone. They are volunteers as well.”
-What if patient needs an operation?
“If it is an emergency, the emergency help is possible. Everyone can go and ask emergency help or call 1813.”
Criminals are also welcome in the clinics
– Do you have criminals coming to the clinic?
“No we do not notice any criminal, but if the police see the criminal entered in the clinic, of course, they will come and take him. I don’t think, that police will come to the clinic just to catch the people, because they know, it’s a clinic of undocumented migrants, but we have not any agreement with the police. I only know the people coming here feel safe. We have to have their names and birthdays and I ask which country they come from and their telephone number. So, people came here feel safe and it’s OK for them.”
-Some politicians in the past supported you, some of them were against. What is the situation now, where the government has changed?
“Yes, government is very kind. Actually, only one political party is against us. They want the clinic to close. I think all other political parties accept the clinic in some way, but they don’t want to support us with money. Danish Red Cross is taking care without any money from the government. I think most of politicians think, that Red Cross has taking good care.”
-Which problems do the clinics face?
“The only real problem is the money. Right now we have money enough for the rest of the year, but it is an ongoing question.”
”…We see people from all over the world. Most people are from Africa, Asia, Middle East and from Eastern Europe, but we also see people from US, Australia, Western Europe, South America, Australia. From almost all world and they come with all kind of diseases. Infections and pain in the body are common problems for them. We see a lot of pregnant women. People are more welcome if they need our help”, says Vibeke.
Copenhagen’s clinic is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 17:00 till 20:00 and every second Friday morning from 10:00 to 12:00. The clinic has children’s doctor and a nurse for vaccination of the babies.
In Århus the clinic is open on Monday and Thursday. Opening hours are from 17:00 to 20:00.
You can get the addresses of the two clinics by calling this number: 31 71 61 64 or write an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Around 77 persons visit the clinics per week. From the beginning in august 2011 and until new year this year we have seen more that 3 300 persons in both clinics.