In a survey of 102 illegal immigrants in the Stockholm area, MSF found that eighty percent of those questioned said they were excluded from the healthcare system. Two thirds of those questioned said their mental and physical health had declined while living illegally in Sweden.
“We are aware that this result is not necessarily representative of all illegal immigrants in Sweden, but we think that the trend is clear,” said Matthias Ohlson, who conducted the survey, to TT.
“Many refugees encounter obstacles to getting medical treatment,” he added.
Ohlson gave the example of cancer patients who are denied life-saving treatment until they can make an advance payment. One such case involved a woman with cancer of the uterus who needed an operation and radiotherapy.
Other immigrants say that they have not been given treatment because they do not have a personal number. Twelve women in the study were pregnant, but got no access to antenatal care.
Sweden places more restrictions on healthcare provision for illegal immigrants than almost any other country in the European Union, according to MSF. Countries including Spain, France and Italy provide free emergency healthcare to all immigrants.