refugees and asylum seekers registered by the UNHCR in Egypt
psychologist per million population
Precarious humanitarian and healthcare situation for migrants
Since the closure of the Balkan route and the introduction of greater controls on the Turkish border, the Mediterranean coast of Egypt has become a major place of departure for migrants and refugees heading for Europe. Migrants, especially those from Sub-Saharan Africa, are increasingly drawn to Egypt due to its central location. This applies to hundreds of thousands of Sudanese, Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants who arrive in Egypt with the help of criminal networks and who wish to travel on to Israel or Europe.
Many thousands of these migrants are victims of organ trafficking which has developed alongside the people trafficking. The business of selling organs for thousands of euros and with no medical supervision seriously endangers the migrants’ already fragile health. Barriers to services such as healthcare, education, housing and employment forces people to live on the margins of society. In a country already suffering high levels of employment and poor access to basic services, the migrants are increasingly seen as an unwanted burden and are subjected to discrimination.
There are many people within the Egyptian population who suffer from mood disorders, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Egyptians also suffer the effects of fragile healthcare policy
In addition, there are many people within the Egyptian population who suffer from mood disorders, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. This is particularly true of survivors of domestic abuse, children who live on the streets, prisoners, victims of political violence, people with disabilities, people who use drugs and those with AIDS or hepatitis C. Their problems have a direct impact on their relationships with those around them, especially at the level of the family unit.
However, mental health services in Egypt focus primarily on prevention and are concentrated in hospitals. These services operate under the authority of the General Secretariat of Mental Health which is part of the Ministry of Health. The staff in community settings are not trained in mental healthcare and there is a desperate shortage of specific drugs.
To address this healthcare crisis, Médecins du Monde launched a project in 2017 to improve access to mental healthcare for refugees and migrants, as well as host communities, in urban areas of the capital, in Cairo and Giza Governorates.
In Egypt social and cultural prejudices form significant barriers to accessing this type of care, although the needs are very real. In 2017, there was one psychologist for every million people on average at the national level.
Helping local organisations provide care for mental health conditions
Médecins du Monde works to build capacity and raise awareness among staff at primary healthcare centres and NGOs with the aim of improving access to mental healthcare and psychosocial support.
The training and support provided at 12 health centres and by four NGOs, as well as advocacy work targeted at the health authorities, seek to integrate mental healthcare and psychosocial support into existing services.
These interventions are complemented by prevention and awareness-raising activities in specific communities. We work closely with four local partner organisations and over 30 community centres where the flows of migrants and refugees are mainly concentrated.
This work plays a vital role in strengthening the link between the community, the NGOs and the state healthcare services, particularly primary healthcare centres.
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