Austerity measures imposed by European governments have hit the poorest by limiting access to healthcare, said a medical charity. In its annual survey of European healthcare access, the Medecins du Monde (MdM) non-governmental organization, said all pregnant women must have access to termination, plus antenatal and postnatal care.
MdM provides healthcare to vulnerable populations and bears witness to obstacles in healthcare access.
The report, which was launched in London, is entitled "Access to healthcare for people facing multiple health vulnerabilities: obstacles in access to care for children and pregnant women in Europe. While the economic crisis and austerity measures have resulted in an overall increase in unmet health needs in most countries, the most destitute have been hit the hardest," it said.
MdM held 22,171 face-to-face consultations in 2014 with patients in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Around three-quarters of them were from outside the European Union.
Their report based on these consultations "paints a bleak picture of the 'cradle of human rights'," said MdM.
The organization said 63% of the people it saw in Europe had no free-to-access healthcare coverage. Fewer than half of the children seen were properly immunized against tetanus or measles, mumps and rubella. Meanwhile more than half of the pregnant women had not had access to antenatal care before coming to MdM.
"MdM urges member states and EU institutions to ensure universal public health systems built on solidarity, equality and equity, open to everyone living in an EU member state," it said in its conclusions.
"All children residing in Europe must have full access to national immunization schemes and to pediatric care. All pregnant women must have access to termination of pregnancy, antenatal and postnatal care and safe delivery. Seriously ill migrants must be protected from expulsion when effective access to adequate healthcare cannot be ensured in the country to which they are expelled. MdM exhorts all health professionals to take care of all patients regardless of their administrative status and the existing legal barriers."