Health care

Portugal

Country Report: Health care Last updated: 21/05/21

Author

Portuguese Refugee Council Visit Website

The Asylum Act enshrines the right of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, as well as their family members, to health care provided by the SNS under the same conditions as nationals.[1] Furthermore, it provides for the right to tailored health care, including the treatment of mental conditions, for vulnerable refugees under the same conditions as national citizens.[2] The special needs of particularly vulnerable persons including beneficiaries of international protection must be taken into consideration  in the provision of health care,[3] notably through rehabilitation and psychological support to children who have been subjected to various forms of violence,[4] and adequate treatment to survivors of torture and serious violence.[5] Responsibility for special treatment required by survivors of torture and serious violence lies with ISS.[6]

Asylum seekers and refugees are exempt from any fees to access the National Health System.[7] Additionally, all children are exempt from such fees.[8]

In practice, beneficiaries of international protection have effective access to free health care in the SNS in line with applicable legal provisions. However, as with asylum seekers (see Reception Conditions: Health Care) persisting challenges have a significant impact on the quality of the care available. According to research and information available to CPR, these include language and cultural barriers due to the reluctance of health care services to use available interpretation services such as ACM’s translation hotline; restricted access to diagnosis procedures and medication paid by the SNS due to bureaucratic constraints; or very limited access to mental health care and other categories of specialised medical care (e.g., dentists) in the SNS.[9]

According to CPR’s experience within the provision of support to resettled refugees, access to healthcare by beneficiaries of international protection worsened within the context of the pandemic given the overburdening of healthcare services. According to the publicly available information, such difficulties are common to the whole population and not particular to refugees.

The National Vaccination Plan (Covid-19) was approved by Ministerial Decree no.298-B/2020, of 23 December 2020.[10] The Ministerial Order determines that the national vaccination plan is grounded on the principles of universality, acceptability, and feasibility and is free of charge.

Priority groups for Covid-19 vaccination are defined based on a combination of factors such as age and pre-existing conditions (in addition to essential workers).[11] Asylum seekers and refugees living in living in communitarian facilities are considered a group with increased risk of infection and outbreaks (e.g., elderly homes) and, as such, prioritised. Vaccination at CPR’s Reception Centres occurred in the beginning of the 2021.

[1] Article 73(1) Asylum Act.

[2]Article 73(2) Asylum Act.

[3]Article 77(1) Asylum Act.

[4]  Article 78 (3)-(4) Asylum Act.

[5]  Article 80 Asylum Act.

[6]  Ibid.

[7] Article 4(1)(n) Decree-Law 113/2011 of 29 November 2011.

[8] Article 4(1)(b) Decree-Law 113/2011 of 29 November 2011.

[9] Italian Council for Refugees et al., Time for Needs: Listening, Healing, Protecting, October 2017, available at: https://bit.ly/3gEoe1T.

[10] Ministerial Decree 298-B/2020 of 23 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fU70NC.   

[11]  Plano de Vacinação COVID-19, 3 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2PPD5eF

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation