23 Feb 2004

Doctors body says asylum seekers need same quality of health care as Australians

4:25 pm on 23 February 2004

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is calling for independent and accredited health facilities for all of Australia' immigration centres.

The president of the organisation, Professor Michael Kidd, says refugees and asylum seekers - including those detained on Nauru - deserve the same health care facilities as Australians.

Professor Kidd, who is based in Sydney, says reports from GPs treating refugees and asylum seekers who arrive in Australia indicate they are not receiving appropriate care.

He says they suffer from a variety of health problems but mental illness is a major concern.

"Particular focus needs to be on the mental health problems, which includes anxiety, clinical depression, post traumatic stress disorder that many of these people experience. We do have people who have physical problems, some of that has been related to the consequences of torture and poor treatment which has lead them to leave their countries of origin."

Professor Kidd says a independent medical body needs to be set up to look at the provision of healthcare to all asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and offshore under Australia's 'Pacific Solution."