Measures imposed during the pandemic
According to the vaccination strategy in Romania, asylum seekers and migrants detained in public custody centres are included in the third phase of vaccination, along with the wider public. The third phase of vaccination started on 10 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 contributionsand registerat 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 has been a medical doctor, a nurse and a psychologist since August 2018. However, since August 2021, there has been no medical doctor in the centre. The director of the centre reported that the psychologist provided counselling to 703 asylum seekers during 2021, with the help of an interpreter.
In Rădăuţi, two medical assistants were hired in 2020. A medical doctor was contracted as a service provider, and a medical doctor of the ICAR Foundation was hired. In 2021 IGI-DAI did not hire a medical doctor, so there was only the doctor from the ICAR Foundation. There are two tents in the courtyard, where transferred asylum seekers undergo medical screening, which is conducted swiftly. The medical screening includes the medical history of the asylum seeker. The interpreter is only called when there are exceptional issues. In 2021 there was also a psychologist at IGI-DAI.
In Timișoara, a medical doctor is present in the centre 3 hours per day and two nurses are provided by IGI-DAI. The nurses work on 8h shifts. The medical screening conducted by the medical doctor in Timișoara was done without an interpreter, however he is speaking Arabic. The JRS representative was not aware if this was conducted. Upon arrival or the following day asylum seekers are seen by the medical staff of the centre; it was emphasized by the director of the centre that the doctor speaks Arabic. A summary evaluation is made without an interpreter, after which the medical file is drafted. The psychologist works full time.
Bucharest 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 a psychologist resumed their activity in Bucharest in October 2018. During their visit, the Ombudsman observed a scarce amount of psychological counselling provided to vulnerable persons. Three nurse positions were also still vacant. In 2020, the centre had 2 medical assistants and 1 medical doctor and a psychologist. In 2021, according to JRS there was only one medical doctor and no medical nurses. However, the director of the centre stated that there was a full-time medical doctor and a nurse. As for the psychologist the position has been vacant since August 2021. The director noted that the medical screening is done with the help of an interpreter upon arrival.
Galaţi: There is a medical doctor, present in the centre twice a week or when a transfer arrives, one nurse and a full-time psychologist as of 15 October 2019. In addition, there is also a medical doctor hired by the ICAR Foundation present twice a week. The medical screening is done by the doctor and nurse, in general without an interpreter. The medical staff often relies on other asylum seekers. However, an interpreter was provided for the Afghan asylum seekers evacuated by Romania at the medical screening.
Şomcuta Mare: The medical screening is done by the medical doctor of IGI-DAI. It is basically a general consultation which includes the medical history, taking the pulse, heart rate and visual check-up to check scars. This is usually done with the help of the AIDRom cultural facilitator or in English. Somcuta Mare is the only centre that has never had a psychologist. The position is still vacant.
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 visibly checked to see 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, or sometimes with the help of the cultural facilitator, who is present on weekdays.
From 26 September 2020 until December 2022 the ICAR Foundation is implementing the project “Health Insurance for Asylum Seekers in Romania (ASIG – RO)” in partnership with AIDRom. Under this project at least 432 asylum seekers 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, the 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 ICAR Foundation doctor 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.