Since July 2018 the Danish Refugee Council operates in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of supporting the BiH authorities in managing increased migration flows and corresponding challenges in the country. Thanks to EU humanitarian aid funding, DRC has been focusing during the past years on improving access to primary and secondary health care including mental health services to refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers, as well as on enhancing the overall protective environment, primarily for the most vulnerable persons of concern, including the survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. To ensure a timely and adequate response to the health needs of people on the move currently residing in BiH, DRC works closely with Institutes of Public Health and Ministries of Health at the Cantonal and Federal levels, Clinical Centers, Health Centers, and Hospitals, and with the World Health Organization.
“Primarily thanks to EU humanitarian aid, we have established infirmaries in centers Ušivak, Blažuj, Lipa, and Borići, but also we have had the infirmaries in centers that are closed now - Sedra, Miral, Salakovac. In this way, it enabled people to have access to health services on a daily basis, provided by doctors and nurses from the local health institutions. We need to emphasize that infirmaries in reception centers are fully equipped, and the experience and knowledge of medical professionals are at a high level. On average, DRC-supported medical teams in infirmaries conduct over 6,000 medical consultations a month, with over 1,200 direct medical interventions per month,” said Hector Carpintero, DRC Country director.
DRC carries out daily health monitoring and nursing care of patients residing inside isolation rooms, quarantine, and containers for medical cases recovering upon hospital discharge, which includes procurement and provision of chronic and other treatment, and takes care of the follow-up examinations, namely making appointments, collection of necessary documentation and further referral. The COVID-19 response is included in medical care provided to people on the move as well as treatment within the temporary reception center under medical surveillance or in case of severe health conditions treatments in medical institutions – all in accordance with WHO and local health authorities' recommendation, and with the same treatment as for local population.
“In 2022 alone, DRC medical teams together with the health center teams have provided 87.463 medical examinations and interventions as well as 81.461 times first aid assistance in cooperation with our partner Red Cross, while 950 people were referred for further specialized health care and diagnostics in local hospitals and clinical centers. The most common morbidities reported among the population are respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, skin diseases, certain infectious and parasitic diseases, and diseases of the digestive system. Thanks to the signed cooperation agreements with the health centers and clinical hospitals across BiH we have made it possible that people on the move to have access to health care services that are in accordance with the EU standards,” emphasized dr. Marko Isajlović, DRC Medical Advisor.
The cooperation with state health authorities is very comprehensive and it considers the exchange of information and experience, the creation of reports and case studies, and the organization of workshops for healthcare workers and people on the move. For persons not having access to adequate reception facilities and exposed to harsh living conditions, DRC provided emergency and lifesaving assistance through outreach response, together with our partner Red Cross of the Federation of BiH, and also through EU humanitarian funding. These people also have the opportunity for proper medical care within one of the health institutions in BiH, through the established referral mechanism.
“During 2022 DRC protection teams have conducted 15.370 for 10.170 beneficiaries in outreach, of which 1.493 persons were below 18 years old. Also, we have distributed over 11.500 packages of food and non-food items to the people living outside the temporary reception centers. We are dedicated to the pushback documenting and through this year we have recorded 3.388 testimonies which make in a total of about 35,000 since June 2019,” concludes Carpintero.
During the year DRC Outreach teams have provided 4.686 basic medical and nursing care services to people stranded in out-of-site locations across BiH, 3.553 pieces of medication were distributed to people needing treatment for their health concerns, while a total of 154 people with severe health conditions were referred to be examined by the medical team in reception centers, as well as 51 people needing immediate medical care were referred to Emergency Medical Center.
DRC maintains close cooperation with the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the Service for Foreigners Affairs, UN agencies, local and international organizations, and the Delegation of the European Union in order to maximize response to the mixed migration needs in the field of health and protection.