NGOs condemn attacks on health workers in Pakistan

WASHINGTON (Dec. 19, 2012) – The largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs strongly condemns the attacks this week against health workers in Pakistan, who were targeted for their efforts to help to eradicate polio in the country.

“These attacks against frontline health workers are senseless, cruel and counter-productive. We are deeply concerned about the safety of these health workers, whose only mandate is to eradicate polio and whose mission is purely humanitarian in nature,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction.

“Such attacks are not only a tragedy, but also a major setback in global efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan – one of only three countries in the world where cases of the disease are still being reported,” added Worthington.

Humanitarian workers have been targets of violence in Pakistan and have been under increased suspicion following reports last year that the CIA staged an immunization campaign in order to gather information for counter-terrorism purposes.

“In order for health workers to deliver vital services, there needs to be mutual trust with the communities they serve. Any use of irresponsible tactics violates international humanitarian principles,” said Worthington.

InterAction wrote to then CIA director, General David Petraeus, in February to stress that any efforts undermining the neutrality of humanitarian work would have dramatic repercussions and must cease immediately.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 190 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life.  To learn more visit our website


Haiti: Donating medicines and equipment

Massive humanitarian health needs exist in Haiti following the 12 January, 2010, earthquake, and clear World Health Organization guidelines are in place for the donations of medicines and other medical supplies to support the relief effort. WHO recommends that potential donors follow these guidelines to ensure appropriate supplies are being provided to match needs on the ground.

On 27 January, WHO in Haiti also identified the types of medicines and supplies needed at that present time. These needs are identified in the following attachment.
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Cardinal: 'immoral' to deny undocumented migrants health care

Writing in the New York Times today, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, says that denying undocumented immigrants necessary health care services through the current reform legislation is immoral and not in the nation’s well being.

Most studies estimate that more than 10 million undocumented immigrants live in our country. Many have been here for decades. The majority of these immigrants live in “mixed families” — some members of the family were born here, while other relatives are here without documents. … Most have their children in local schools, the vast majority of them have jobs here, and all are contributing to the betterment of our nation.

It makes no sense to deny this large population necessary health care services. It certainly does not help Americans as a whole to remain healthy when millions of people, including schoolchildren, cannot get basic preventive care like immunizations and medications.

At least the House bill allows undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance from the proposed exchange. It’s difficult to understand anti-immigrant groups’ objections to this provision. No one would be rewarded for lacking proper documentation, since undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies.

The Senate bill takes us in the opposite direction and needs to be changed. How is the health of the entire country helped when the Senate will not even allow immigrants to use their own money to purchase their health insurance?

Undocumented migrants in Atlanta face death after dialysis unit closes

The New York Times follows up an earlier story on Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, a “safety-net hospital that would provide dialysis to anyone in need, even illegal immigrants with no insurance or ability to pay.”

That all changed on Oct. 4, when the cash-strapped public hospital closed its outpatient dialysis clinic, leaving 51 patients — almost all illegal immigrants — in a life-or-death limbo.

For Grady, which has served Atlanta’s poor for 117 years, it was an excruciating choice, a stark reflection of what happens when the country’s inadequate health care system confronts its defective immigration policy.

Read the full story here.

Immigrants face death, fear closing of Atlanta dialysis clinic

The plan to close a medical clinic in Atlanta could have dire consequences for poor immigrants who rely on services there to sustain their lives, reports the New York Times.

If Grady Memorial Hospital succeeds in closing its outpatient dialysis clinic, Tadesse A. Amdago, a 69-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, said he would begin “counting the days until I die.” Rosa Lira, 78, a permanent resident from Mexico, said she also assumed she “would just die.” Another woman, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Honduras, said she could only hope to make it “back to my country to die.”

The patients, who have relied for years on Grady’s free provision of dialysis to people without means, said they had no other options to obtain the care that is essential to their survival. But the safety-net hospital, after years of failed efforts to drain its red ink, is not backing away from what its chairman, A. D. Correll, calls a “gut-wrenching decision”: closing the clinic this month.

Click here to read the full story.

Mass. drops health coverage for 30,000 legal immigrants

The New York Times reports that the proposed state budget of Massachusetts will “eliminate health care coverage for some 30,000 legal immigrants to help close a growing deficit” unless Governor Patrick’s proposal to restore partial coverage to immigrants is accepted.

Critics of the cut, which would save an estimated $130 million, say it unfairly targets taxpaying residents and threatens the state’s health care experiment at a critical time.

“It either sends the message that health care reform cannot be done, period,” said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, “or it opens the door to doing it halfway and excluding immigrants from the process.”

The Boston Globe profiles an immigrant with prostate cancer who is at risk of losing health insurance as a result of the proposed changes.