Migrants at a CAS reception center during the COVID-19 emergency, April 27, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/TINO ROMANO
Migrants at a CAS reception center during the COVID-19 emergency, April 27, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/TINO ROMANO

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), together with the Roma 2 local healthcare authority and Médecins du Monde (MDM) have set up a telephone service run by doctors and cultural mediators to help meet the medical needs of Italians and foreigners in reception centers and makeshift settlements in the Italian capital.

The telephone number +39 3510221390 will be answered by doctors and cultural mediators as part of a prevention and health promotion service for the most vulnerable sections of the population in the southeastern part of the Italian capital amid COVID-19. 

The service was set up by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the local healthcare authority Roma 2 and Médecins du Monde (MDM). 

Selam Palace medical unit to be closed 

As part of an agreement signed by the three bodies, the new activities will lead to the closing of the medical unit in Selam Palace, a building occupied by over 500 refugees from the Horn of Africa in Rome. 

Social services and healthcare personnel from the Roma 2 local healthcare authority will continue to monitor the building, facilitating the registering of inhabitants with the regional healthcare service and their access to general practitioners as well as public services available in the area. 

"With the beginning of phase 2, it is more important than ever to focus on the territory, beginning with collective centers, both formal and informal ones, where people live in precarious conditions and have greater difficulty to access medical treatment. To do this, it is crucial to combine the resources of associations with those already in place in the public healthcare system," said Giuseppe De Mola, MSF project coordinator in Rome. 

Doctors and cultural mediators 

Doctors and mediators from MSF and MDM will meet the needs of communities through the telephone service, with special focus on finding and managing COVID-19 cases. 

The phone line, which has been used by MDM since the beginning of the crisis, has been stepped up in this second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It will be necessary to earn the trust of our patients and cultural mediators flanking our doctors will be central to this," said Chiara Lizzi, MDM coordinator for Italy. 

An MSF team will visit reception centers and makeshift settlements and will identify and manage any suspected cases and implement prevention measures. 

The Memorandum of Understanding also provides for more resources for a general practitioner's clinic among those in the Roma 2 area, which foreign undocumented patients will be able to use after being identified through the phone line and healthcare monitoring in place.

"Starting today, the community in the reception centers and informal settlements in the Roma 2 area, including Selam Palace, will be monitored as part of the medical and epidemiological surveillance system activated in collaboration with MSF and Mdm," said Dr.Giuseppe De Angelis, director of the Roma 2 prevention department.
 

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