On Thursday 10 June 2021 in Bratislava, the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic (MoI SR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed an agreement on support of setting up medical facilities and providing them with professional staff in Reception and Identification Centers (RICs) for migrants in Greek islands.

Photo - Signing an agreement between the Slovak Ministtry of Interior and the IOM on support of the health assistance to migrants in Greece

The Minister of Interior of the Slovak Republic Roman Mikulec and the Head of IOM Office in Slovakia Zuzana Vatráľová sign an agreement on support of the health assistance in Greece. Photo: Vladimír Benko / MoI SR.

Within RICs on islands of Lesbos, Chios, Leros and Kos, IOM will set up screening centers equipped with biochemistry laboratories and radiology units, and will refurbish an existing medical facility in Samos island as well. Health professionals, laboratory technicians and radiologists, will be ensured to assist with the operation of mentioned facilities.

The Slovak Republic will contribute 1 million Euros to setting up of the medical facilities and deployment of their professional staff.

The screening centers in the RICs will carry out initial medical examinations as a part of the first reception process and periodic medical examinations to prevent and control diseases of migrants, including applicants and beneficiaries of international protection who are located in the RICs. Medical examinations are also important for the relocation of migrants from islands to other accommodation structures in the mainland to relieve limited capacity of RICs on islands.

The new health centers will thus ease the testing capacity of existing laboratories in public health care structures, reduce capacity requirements for transportation of patients from RICs to local hospitals for further testing and treatment, and reduce the likelihood of contracting and transmitting the virus and exacerbating the health risks, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the IOM data, more than 71,300 migrants arrived in Greece in 2019. Additionally, another 14,780 people came in 2020 and almost 2,000 migrants in 2021 as of 7 June 2021.

Since December 2020, IOM with the financial support of the Government of Austria has strengthened the diagnostic capacities in five RICs on the islands through recruitment and deployment of medical assistance teams, and provisioning of laboratory equipment and medical supplies. Screening centers are the next step in providing health care and protection in RICs.