9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Inequalities and Social Revisions in European Health I Building I, 1E2

Problems and difficulties of immigrant´s access to health care services in Lisbon

This text results from an undergoing study which seeks to understand some of the migrant health problems and more suitable ways to better invest in the improvement of immigrants access to health care through the information collected at the health office of the National Immigrant Support Centre (CNAI), by identifying major health problems, main difficulties and obstacles related to the use of health services, and the solutions that are found for each situation.
A qualitative study was conducted, covering the analysis of documentation available and the observation of the situations visiting the health office with the registration of the history and the narratives of each case observed and analysed.
The 148 cases analysed are of citizens coming from 18 different countries, mainly from three different regions: Palop, Brasil and Eastern Europe. One preliminary analysis shows that some of the problems are connected with family reunification and the obstacles met by the members of the family on the use of the health services. There are also persons coming for treatment in Portugal who need financial and social support or are irregular and wish to have the health card. Some services refuse to treat them or ask them to pay the highest rates even when dealing with pregnant women and children, sometimes because they are undocumented or only because they never contributed to the social security.
The study will permit the intervention within the areas where the problems are identified, the improvement of the health care services, the achievement of a better model of integration, and the articulation between the different institutions involved. It will also result in recommendations for the public health sector and health policies, with impact on the improvement of migrants´ health and resolution of some of their major problems.