13 Jan 2004

Australia satisfied with Nauru asylum seeker health care provisions

6:22 am on 13 January 2004

Australia's immigration minister Amanda Vanstone says health services offered to asylum seekers during a recent hunger strike in Nauru were perfectly adequate.

She made her comment as Australian government doctors and officials travelled to Nauru to review the island's healthcare system.

Meanwhile, an independent doctor planning to visit Nauru says she is concerned about a youth in detention on Nauru who is reportedly blind in one eye and being treated with a drug banned in Australia because it can cause blindness.

Psychiatrist Louise Newman says this case shows the need for an independent assessment of the asylum seekers.

Greg Barnes, who is a spokesman for the support group, A Just Australia, says it hopes to be able to send a group of doctors as soon as 10-thousand US dollars has been raised to charter a plane.

"There's a genuine sense of outrage by many Australians that the Australian government refused to pay for the independent medical team to go to Nauru, in its place put its own team of bureaucrats onto the island and as I say, they're unlikely to come up with any sort of independent assessment, given that they're officers of the government whose policy is in place in Nauru."