Measures imposed during the pandemic
According to the vaccination strategy in Romania, asylum seekers and migrants detained in public custody centres are included in phase III of vaccination, along with the wider public. Phase III of vaccination started on 10th of March 2021.
Access to health care for asylum seekers covers the right to receive free primary care and appropriate treatment, emergency hospital care and free health care and treatment in cases of acute or chronic illnesses considered imminently life threatening, through the national emergency health care system and qualified first aid. These services shall be provided, as the case may be, through the medical service of the Regional Centres and/or other health care facilities accredited and authorised by law.
In addition, asylum seekers have the right to be included in national public health programmes aimed at preventing, monitoring and controlling contagious diseases in epidemiological risk situations.
Asylum seekers are assigned a personal identification number which figures on their temporary identity documents in order for them to enjoy all the rights provided by the law. After receiving the personal identification number, asylum seekers may register in the public health insurance system and, if they pay healthcare contributions and register at a general practitioner’s office, they have the status of an insured person with the same rights and benefits as nationals.
As of 2019, asylum seekers have access to a general practitioner within all Regional Centres. In Giurgiu, according to the director of the centre, there are a medical doctor, a nurse and a psychologist since August 2018.
In Rădăuţi, a medical doctor was hired in the summer of 2018, but his contract terminated in December 2018. In February 2019 a new medical doctor was hired. In 2020, the 2 medical assistants were hired. A medical doctor was contracted as a service provider, and a medical doctor of the ICAR Foundation was hired. Two tents were installed in the courtyard, where transferred asylum seekers are undergoing a medical screening, which is conducted swiftly. The medical screening includes the medical history of the asylum seeker. The interpreter is not used at this stage all the time.
In Timișoara, a medical doctor is present in the centre on a part time basis (11am-3pm) and two nurses are provided by IGI-DAI. The nurses are working on 8h shifts. According to JRS, the medical screening conducted by the medical persons in Timișoara was done without an interpreter and it is only a bureaucratic action. However, the AIDRom representative reported that, in general, the medical screening is done the next day if the asylum seekers arrive during the night or in the same day if they arrive during the day, with an interpreter or someone from the community. The screening includes a visual check-up, weighing and measuring. According to the director of Timișoara Regional Centre medical screening/ epidemiologic triage is conducted at the Border Police. Upon arrival or the following day asylum seekers are seen by the medical staff of the centre. A summary evaluation is made without an interpreter, after which the medical file is drafted.
Bucharest had a psychologist contracted by IGI-DAI until September 2017. The Ombudsman has stressed that the provision of a psychologist by IGI-DAI is “imperiously needed” and that psychological assistance and services provided by NGOs should be complementary thereto. According to the Ombudsman the psychologist resumed its activity in October 2018. During its visit, the Ombudsman observed a scarce number of psychological counselling provided to vulnerable persons. Also a number of 3 nurse positions were still vacant. In 2020, the centre had 2 medical assistants and 1 medical doctor and a psychologist.
Galaţi: There is a medical doctor, one nurse and a full-time psychologist as of 15 October 2019, who currently is on maternity leave. The doctor and nurse do the medical screening, in general without an interpreter.
Şomcuta Mare: The medical screening is done by the medical doctor of IGI-DAI. It is basically a general consult which includes the medical history, taking the pulse, heart rate and visual check-up if the person present any scars. If the interpreter of IGI-DAI is not in the centre at this stage, someone from the community will translate. The JRS representative has no information on how the medical screening is conducted.
In Bucharest, according to the medical doctor, the medical screening is conducted by her and the nurse when the asylum seekers are accommodated in the centre. They are visible checked if they present any signs of eczema, rabies, lice and a medical record is drawn up. In case of medical issues, the asylum seekers are referred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs hospitals. The screening is conducted without the assistance of an interpreter.
The ICAR Foundation, in partnership with AIDRom, implemented the project “Health Services Accessible to the Needs of Asylum Seekers (S.A.N.S.A.)”, between 13 August 2019 and 12 August 2020, funded through the AMIF national programme. Under the project they ensure the basic needs in terms of physical and mental health of asylum seekers are met. The project was implemented in all 6 regional centres. Under this project, at least 600 asylum seekers will benefit from medical consultations, investigations, analyses and treatments and will participate in information and counseling sessions on the healthcare system in Romania, their rights and obligations, the hygiene and public health rules. At the same time, at least 200 asylum seekers will receive specialist psychological assistance and counseling in the accommodation centres. Part of the psycho-social specialists’ activities was to identify vulnerable asylum seekers (families in difficulty, elderly people, people with chronic diseases, unaccompanied minors, victims of physical and mental violence), as well as to identify their needs. Subsequently, tests were performed to assess the general health of newly arrived asylum seekers, and general practitioners provided weekly medical consultations. According to the AIDRom programme coordinator, the tests are basic blood tests and not epidemiology tests. However, if there are signs or indications that such tests are needed, they will be conducted.
As of 26 September 2020 until 25 September 2021 ICAR Foundation, in partnership with AIDRom, implements the project “Health Insurance for Asylum Seekers in Romania (ASIG – RO)”. Under this project the indicators provided are at least 432 asylum seekers who will benefit from medical services and at least 216 asylum seekers will benefit from specialized psychological assistance and counselling.
The Asylum Act provides for the right of asylum seekers with special needs to receive adequate health care. In practice, ICAR Foundation is the only organisation with the necessary experience in providing psychological assistance to torture survivors and traumatised asylum seekers in all the reception centres.
In Timișoara, ICAR personnel conduct the medical screening. IGI-DAI is notified if there are asylum seekers suffering from mental health issues and they are referred to specialised hospitals, if necessary. The doctor of ICAR Foundation is present in the centre once a week. According to the JRS representative, AIDRom representatives carry out a more detailed screening.
 Decision no. 1031 of 27 November 2020, Vaccination STRATEGY against COVID-19 in Romania of November 27 2020, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/39XXHZ7.
 Romanian Government, Official Statements, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3wzHJhs.
 Article 17(1)(m) Asylum Act.
 Article 17(1)(m^1) Asylum Act.
 Article 17(1^1) Asylum Act.
 Ombudsman, Report 75/2019,7.
 AIDRom, News Release, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/38pzGtl.
 Article 17(1)(n) Asylum Act.