Article 13(2) of the Refugees Act states that asylum seekers shall have access to state medical care, with little additional information provided. The Reception Regulations further stipulate that the material reception conditions should ensure the health of all asylum seekers, yet no specification is provided as to the level of health care that should be guaranteed. The Regulations specify that applicants shall be provided with emergency health care and essential treatment of illness and serious mental disorders.1
Asylum seekers who are not detained may access the state health services, with the main obstacles being mainly linked to language difficulties.
Furthermore, institutional obstacles prevent effective recourse to the mainstream health services when required, including in cases of emergencies: limited transport availability, absence of full-time medical staff in the detention centres, informal transactions for medicine, etc.
Persons suffering mental health problems fall under the above-mentioned legal provisions. As with vulnerable persons, detained asylum seekers suffering from mental health problems face the practical difficulty of not being identified, owing to the absence of a formal identification process or of full-time specialists within the detention centres. Once identified, they are generally transferred to Mount Carmel mental health hospital for treatment.
No specialised services exist in Malta for victims of torture or trauma, primarily owing to the lack of such capacity on the island.
Decisions to reduce or withdraw material reception conditions would not affect access to health care.
- 1. Regulation 11(2) Reception Regulations