WHO and EU help migrants access COVID-19 protective equipment in Turkey

Turkey provides universal access to health services to all refugees and migrants, including irregular migrants. Hosted in dedicated centres for short periods of time before repatriating to their respective countries, irregular migrants are in need of equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Thanks to contingency funding from European Union (EU) financial support, the WHO Country Office in Turkey was able to distribute 100 000 surgical masks, 8000 FFP2 masks, 3000 pairs of goggles, 4500 coveralls and 250 thermometers to the 28 centres in the country. Collaboration with the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) was instrumental in procuring these supplies.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, commented: “The EU has been mobilizing its resources to fight the pandemic and this is one of many actions that we have taken in this regard. These centres are high-risk settings, and the EU is pleased to work with WHO to make protective equipment available here, through the DGMM”.

These centres have a very high need for COVID-19 protective supplies, as they can harbour the COVID-19 virus if proper measures for infection prevention and control are not taken. The centres’ normal capacity is 20 000 people, but 2019 figures show that 450 000 irregular migrants arrived in Turkey in 1 year alone.

Gokhan Alma, DGMM Focal Point for the centres said: “DGMM and the centres are at the forefront of migrant health and the COVID-19 response. Those we are serving in these facilities can be at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, unless protection is provided. We sincerely appreciate the generous support from the WHO Turkey office, and will make sure these protective materials reach the centres and the people who need them”.

This initiative is aligned with WHO/Europe’s European Programme of Work (EPW), “United Action for Better Health”. It also supports WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work (GPW 13), by setting out a vision for how WHO/Europe can better support countries in meeting expectations on health for the future.

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