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Are there policies and/or good practices accomodating culture/ traditions' respect in health care

Key Area:
Health And Social Protection
Discrimination, Equality
17/02/2012 - 16:12
Short Answer

The Plano para a Integração de Imigrantes [Plan for Immigrant Integration] adopts several measures concerning the health area of intervention, including the promotion of immigrants access to health, improving health services, training schemes on interculturality for National Health Service (SNS) professionals and integrating immigrant professionals with degrees in medicine, among other policies and good practices.

Qualitative Info

The I Plano para a Integração de Imigrantes (PII, 2007-2009) [I Plan for Immigrant Integration] and the II Plano para a Integração de Imigrantes (PII, 2010-2013) [II Plan for Immigrant Integration] adopted several measures accross various policy areas, including health.

For the I Plan for Immigrant Integration (2007-2009) the "Health" area of intervention included the measures (pp. 13-15):

- To promote the carrying out of training, education and community schemes to combat the lack of information held by immigrants in relation to health services and to encourage them to use the National Health Service (MS/ ARS), at a local level and in conjunction with Health Centres;
- To promote immigrant access to health services by stimulating promotional information schemes at a regional level and encouraging through sensitisation and education the highest number of immigrants to enrol in, and make appointments at, Health Centres on a wider national scale;
- To stimulate the carrying out projects related to immigrants and health at a municipal level;
- Access to health for foreign citizens without official status under the terms provided by law, through their enrolment in the National Health Service by presenting papers issued by ACIDI, I.P. as an alternative to proof of residence issued by local councils;
- To implement the integration of Portuguese hospitals into the “Migrant Friendly Hospitals” European Network by way of improving both the services and the cultural organisations related to migrant populations;
- Training schemes on interculturality for National Health Service (SNS) professionals with the aim of creating the intercultural and linguistic skills of health carers to improve the health of the immigrant and ethnic minority populations;
- Programme for integrating immigrant professionals with degrees in medicine who can help answer the needs of the SNS, respond to the special needs of immigrant patients (e.g.
with communication difficulties) as well as share in “inter-pares” training opportunities
on interculturality;
- To develop a Socio-Cultural Mediation Programme within the hospital and health centre network in regions with large numbers of immigrants with a view to facilitating access to health through linguistic and cultural means;
- To develop partnerships between NGOs, the National Health Service and other organisations for promoting immigrant and ethnic minority access to health in Portugal by creating effective support mechanisms on questions of immigrants and ethnic minorities to facilitate developing the most suitable services rendered which meet the needs of immigrants (e.g. from the cultural and linguistic point of view) and assessing the needs, the impact of schemes and joint responsibility in the process of improving available services;
- To publicise the conditions for access to health in the Consulates, of countries of origin, in Portugal and also in Portuguese.

For the II Plan for Immigrant Integration covering the period 2010-2013 the "Health" area of intervention includes the measures (pp. 24-26):

- Promoting access by immigrants to the national Health Service: Implementing strategies which reduce inequalities in the health system by providing the resources and introducing the measures which permit the health service to meetr to the needs of immigrants in accordance with the strategies to be established in the National Health Plan 2011-2016; informing immigrants of their rights and duties with regard to the National Health Service (SNS), including Law no. 33/2009 of 14 July which establishes the right to receive emergency treatment from the SNS and the information circular issued by the Directorate General for Health (12/DQS/DMD, of 7 May) on the access of immigrants to the SNS;
- Training plan for intercultural skills of SNS employees by extending to all regional health authorities the Training Plan for Intercultural Skills previously implemented by the regional health authority of Lisboa e Vale do Tejo in conjunction with ACIDI; 
- implementation of a migrant-friendly healthcare services programme by disseminating the international “Migrant-Friendly Hospital” in the National Health Service with the objective of improving services and organizational culture vis-à-vis the immigrant population; 
- Developing partnerships for the promotion of immigrants’ access to healthcare in Portugal: empower communities for the creation of environments conducive to good
health via the activation of a network of local partnerships and the establishment of new ones, involving different social actors ranging from public and private organizations to NGOs, civil, religious and social action associations and other sectors of society;
- Institutionalization of procedures designed to improve the management of Health Agreements and facilitating access by immigrants and their companions to health services, namely the medical assistance process for patients evacuated from African Countries with Portuguese as an Official Language (PALOP), under the cooperation agreements in healthcare signed by Portugal and the PALOP countries. The Foreign Patient Assistance Programme (PADE) promoted by ACIDI in conjunction with the ISS provided a response to some of the problems faced in this area, and served as a resource for the welcoming and supervision of patients and the people accompanying them;
- Investing in the promotion of mental health among immigrants via the National Mental Health Coordinating Office and in articulation with the National Council for Mental Health and with non-government bodies.

The II Plan for Immigrant Integration also includes in the "Justice" area of intervention a measure for promoting foreign prisoners access to the National Health Service (p. 30).


ACIDI (2007), I Plan for Immigrant Integration (2007-2009),ão+do+Plano+2007-2009+em+inglês+, Date of access: 26.01.2012.

ACIDI (2010), II Plan for Immigrant Integration (2010-2013),ão+da+Plano+2010-2013+em+Inglês, Date of access: 26.01.2012.

ACIDI, (2010), Relatório Final: I Plano para a Integração de Imigrantes (2007-2009),ça+o+Relatório+Final+do+PII+%282007-2009%29, Date  of access: 26.01.2012.

Groups affected/interested Migrants
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Health and social protection, Culture
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