Migrants face to face with health care system challenges in Romania


I tried to access health care services in Romania. I went to a clinic and I told the physicians: ‘Please be patient with me because I don’t speak Romanian very well.’ The medical assistant replied to me in Romanian: ‘I don’t understand you. Come with a translator!’ I was surprised, because I come from a Latin country and my Romanian was not so bad. Then I realised there were many other foreign students in the same case, it was not only me.” (Nayeli del Pilar Tinoco Quispe, Peru, student at Bucharest University)

Farah from Yemen had a quite similar experience, before finalising the Romanian language preparatory year at the University.

I went to a physician for a stomach pain. The physician could speak only Romanian, she was in a hurry, harsh and impatient, talking fast and loudly. I tried to explain my symptoms in English, but she did not understand. I wondered: if she doesn’t understand what I say, how can she give me a good treatment? Then she started to examine and press my stomach. Besides the physical pain, I felt anxiety, psychological pressure, and I started to cry. At that point the physician got scared and suddenly she became very nice, speaking slowly so that I can understand every word. The situation changed completely. The second time when I visited her, she was very nice and welcoming.” (Farah al-Eryani, Yemen, Bucharest University student).

The Bucharest University-related public clinics are managed by ASSMB (Administration of Hospitals and Healthcare services in Bucharest). ASSMB representatives ensured us that they support refugees and offer them healthcare services with no discrimination. “We have a colleague who speaks Russian/ Ukrainian and who accompanies Ukrainian parents and children in hospitals, at the dentist, wherever necessary, as a volunteer. We want to facilitate migrants’ access to medical services in schools, universities, medical offices.”

Proposals came from both sides – from the Migrant Forum representatives and ASSMB – with the purpose of improving foreign students’ access to healthcare system in Romania. Maybe a training session on tolerance and sensitivity for medical staff would help, the migrants suggested. The newly established Migrant Forum had meetings previously with Romanian healthcare authorities -  Emergency Situations  Department, family doctors associations –  in order to find realistic solutions.

The Consultative Migrant Forum comprises 10 nationalities - mainly foreign students with scholarships from Romanian Government – and was established within the PROMISE project (Protecting Unaccompanied Migrant Minors). The Forum’s goal is to protect migrants’ rights and help them integrate easier into Romanian society.

PROMISE project is implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation and JRS Association (Jesuit Refugee Service in Romania), with the financial support of Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants  2014-2021. The content of this material does not necessarily reflect the official position of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021. For more information, visit  www.eeagrants. 

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