NASSAU, BAHAMAS- A Ministry of Health (MOH) Situation Report has expressed concerns that undocumented migrants displaced by Hurricane Dorian are not seeking medical care due to deportation fears.
The update, dated October 4, also underscored some of the pregnant women screened were refusing medical care.
The report followed an October 1 meeting with Ministry of Health officials and several international bodies to discuss the available sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) at primary health care and hospital level, that displaced people from Abaco and Grand Bahamas can access.
The groups involved in the discussion included Project Hope, the United Nations Population Fund on Gender Based Violence (UNFPA GBV), and Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinators in Emergencies.
“HOPE medical team noted that they dealt with cases of unwanted pregnancies, and women asking for family planning methods, pregnant women not receiving proper antennal care,” the report noted.
“Some of the pregnant women are even refusing to receive medical care.
“Amongst the displaced people, there are illegal immigrants who fear to go and visit a doctor, because they are afraid of being reported to the police and deported.
“MOH reps advised that a nurse was assigned and providing health education and promotion at shelters, even though language sometimes may be a barrier.
“The group was assured that deportation is not the case, and whoever seeks medical care, regardless their legal status, will receive the proper care and not be reported to the police.”
Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm to hit Northwest Bahamas, devastated Abaco and parts of Grand Bahama, leaving thousands displaced.
Sexual and reproductive health services
Among the key concerns of the health care services provided to those in shelters is the access to sexual and reproductive health services.
During that October 1 meeting with other agencies, the UNFPA shared their concerns regarding the existing gaps in provision of SRH services at the shelters.
“Condoms and DepoProvera were the most required family planning methods, but women in the shelters said they couldn’t access them,” the report noted.
“…The importance of STI service provision, including treatment, was recognized as people are sexually active even during the emergencies. The process for maternal care was outlined as well as procedures for emergency (deliveries), the emergency ambulance can be called, while from the islands, the emergency flight can be scheduled immediately.”