Migrant Crisis: Health risk posed as migrants flee before crucial results

Only 350-400 of a total of 4,100 ordered health screenings could be performed

The migrant crisis poses a significant health risk, according to Zoltán Ónodi-Szűcs, minister of state for Healthcare.

Ónodi-Szűcs said that although the Hungarian healthcare system can cope with the burdens posed by migration, the lack of cooperation from migrants and the fact that they do not wait for the results of their screenings is a major risk.

The minister said that given the current regulations, healthcare authorities went “as far as they could”. He pointed out that Hungary is often being accused of not lending sufficient assistance to migrants, but added that it is very difficult to do so if they refuse the help offered.

He said that basic healthcare facilities are available at the transit zones in the form of health centers for both adults and children operated by the Hungarian Armed Forces. When needed, paediatricians even cross into Serbia or go deeper into Hungary to provide assistance, he said.

Since last April, Hungary spent 350 million HUF on medical services for migrants, he said, adding that this includes the costs of treatments, drugs, vaccines, screenings and transportation.

Attila Kovács, deputy chief medical officer, explained that the healthcare system has three main duties: protecting the safety of the population and of those coming in direct contact with the migrants as well as offering healthcare where needed. Hungary offers migrants the full spectrum of healthcare services available to Hungarian nationals.

In case of suspicion of contagious diseases, migrants are sent to health screenings. However, throughout this year, only 350-400 of a total of 4,100 ordered health screenings could be performed. All other migrants left Hungary before the screenings could be carried out, Kovács explained.

He said that the epidemiological situation is well illustrated by the results of the actually performed screenings, which found infections of syphilis and hepatitis A and C. Due to the poor conditions during their journey, many migrants arrive carrying parasites, he added.