Published: 14 October 2018
For some considerable time now, the mental and physical health of refugee children, women and men on Nauru has been deteriorating steadily. A humanitarian crisis now exists, especially since the recent expulsion of Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) from the tiny sovereign state by the Nauruan Government on October 6. MSF had been providing all psychiatric services on the island up until then.
Exactly one month ago over 3 consecutive days, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) sent or released letters to the Prime Minister and every other parliamentarian in the House of Representatives and Senate, followed by a strongly worded media release, urging the immediate removal of asylum seeker families from Nauru.
The Government must get fair dinkum and give these long-suffering asylum seeker children, many of whom are extremely ill, and their families a fair go – bring them to Australia for proper care in the best possible environment for their severe mental and physical health conditions.
AMA President Dr Tony Bartone has also requested that the Prime Minister make it possible for an Australian medical delegation to access Nauru and make an evaluation of the health needs of those who remain indefinitely detained, including about 100 minors.
A fortnight ago, Sydney general practitioner Dr Sara Townend and Melbourne plastic surgery senior trainee Dr Neela Janakiramanan initiated a letter and petition to the Prime Minister. Already they have gathered in excess of 6,000 medical practitioner and student signatories, and have received the backing of a whole host of leading and influential organisations, including the ASA and ANZCA.
The ASA has taken a stance based on empathy, in which the human and ethical imperative far outweighs the political one. On this issue of refugee relocation, the ASA view is identical to that of the AMA and the remainder of the medical profession.
The Townend /Janakiramanan petition remains open, and the link is included here:
Dr Peter Seal