Medical Care for Refugees

Central Health has always had a pro-bono system, initially established to help its own patients who fell on hard times. Nine years ago, after becoming involved in a particularly tragic and difficult case, Dr. Sarah Borwein and Central Health family doctors started to provide pro-bono medical care to Hong Kong’s refugees and asylum-seekers.

Refugees arrive in Hong Kong, often having been tortured or raped and sometimes having witnessed their close family members murdered. They have often fled to Hong Kong in order to escape violent persecution, and then find themselves here in a prolonged state of limbo. Without any legal status, they are unable to work and have extremely limited access to public services including healthcare. In 2016, supported by donations from the UJC, doctors at Central Health Medical Practice saw over 200 refugees for consultation. We were able to provide many of them with over 200,000 HKD worth of crucial diagnostic tests, medications, surgeries, and ongoing medical management.

We now work closely with the UNHCR, Christian Action and the Justice Centre to provide their refugees with essential medical care. We have been impressed that many of our colleagues – specialists, nurses and laboratory providers- have given their time and services for free. However the number of refugees requiring treatment has risen and drugs that would normally be provided by government are almost impossible to obtain.

We are very grateful to the UJC for supporting essential medical care for refugees in Hong Kong which enables us to provide drugs and in some cases corrective surgery. All doctors and specialists give their time for free but we need donations for drugs, some investigations and occasionally hospital care. In addition, we are aiming to recruit and train patient advocates to accompany refugees to their medical appointments and ensure that problems with communication, bureaucracy and misunderstanding of their legal status does not prevent them from getting the health care they need.

If you would like to make a donation or volunteer to support medical care for refugees please contact refugees@patientcarefoundation.com.hk

Written by PCF