Doctors without Borders (MSF) aims to provide for the most vulnerable in  its 24-bed clinic in Catania
Doctors without Borders (MSF) aims to provide for the most vulnerable in its 24-bed clinic in Catania

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has opened a post-acute phase healthcare clinic for migrants in Sicily who have been discharged from hospital and are recovering from illnesses.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has opened a specialized post-acute healthcare clinic in Catania for refugees and asylum seekers who have been discharged from hospitals in Sicily and are unable to access adequate medical care in the post-acute phase or recovery phase of an illness. 

Care for vulnerable sectors 

The 24-bed clinic provides assistance and healthcare such as physiotherapy following fractures, post-op rehabilitation, treatment for chemical burns due to skin contact with splashed petrol on migrant boats, and illnesses that are no longer in the acute phase but require monitoring. 

The project will focus in particular on women's health and on victims of sexual violence, torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment. "The Italian health system currently responds to refugees' and asylum seekers' acute needs, but it's not structured to respond to their follow-up needs after being discharged from hospital," said Elisa Galli, coordinator of the project for MSF. 

"After receiving treatment in hospital, the majority of them don't manage to access the care they need in the recovery phase. This lack can lead to a worsening of their health," she said. 

Support to overcome barriers 

According to MSF, access to and continuity of care can be complicated by linguistic barriers, cultural differences, and refugees' own difficulties in understanding the healthcare system and their rights within it. Assistance will, therefore, be offered through a multidisciplinary approach thanks to an MSF team composed of doctors, nurses, specialists, socio-legal assistants, a psychologist, and cultural mediators. 

"We will welcome patients in a protected environment for a period of 30 days, where we will follow them in the process of psycho-physical recovery, then accompany them in the reinsertion in the migrant reception system in the structure best suited to their situation," Galli said. "Unfortunately, reinsertion into reception structures isn't always automatic, and it's therefore important to support the patient until this takes place in the most efficient and human way possible," she said. (Some pictures from the MSF clinic in Catania. Credit: Doctors Without Borders)

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