Unwell asylum seekers on Nauru to be treated in PNG

A medical advocate for refugees says a decision to transfer unwell asylum seekers on Nauru to Papua New Guinea rather than Australia for backup specialist treatment is an appalling and unethical move.

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection says Nauru’s government has been seeking medical backup treatment options.

Asylum seekers held on Nauru who need medical care will no longer be flown to Australia but instead taken to Papua New Guinea.

This move will likely stop people seeking legal injunctions against their detention.

According to an internal document obtained by Guardian Australia, detainees who are referred by International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) for further medical investigation or treatment will now be sent to the Pacific International hospital in Port Moresby.

Brisbane General Practitioner and the spokesman for Doctors for Refugees, Dr Richard Kidd, says the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru are Australia’s responsibility.

“It’s unethical of Australia to be sending people to a hospital in Papua New Guinea where health resources are very, very stretched and it’s wrong of us to be tying up their resources with our patients.”

At the beginning of July The Australian Border Force Act came into effect and provides for up to two years in jail if workers disclose information about conditions at detention centres.

Former health and social workers have already rallied against the new law, challenging the government to silence them.

In a letter to Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, the WMA’s president, Dr Xavier Deau and chair Dr Ardis Hoven, say the new law effectively silences physicians who address the health conditions of asylum seekers.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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