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MSF in Belgium, 2004
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Belgium is one of the most developed countries in the world and has a sophisticated health care system. However, real access to care is often denied to undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.
MSF's work in Belgium focuses on increasing access to health care for the disadvantaged and most vulnerable part of the population. At present, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged people may obtain free medical care at MSF clinics in Antwerp, Brussels and Liège. During 2003, clinic staff carried out 10,000 consultations with 4,500 patients. Four percent of the patients were nativeborn Belgians and 70 percent came from countries outside of the European Union. Since 1998, MSF has also operated the Elisa Center, which provides free, voluntary and anonymous HIV testing. Because the risk of stigmatization remains high, this center also offers confidential counseling.
In recent years, MSF has been asked by several patients with serious illnesses to provide documentation on the quality of care available in their home countries. MSF provides this information to help immigrants avoid being repatriated to a country where their illness cannot be treated adequately. MSF recently coordinated and systematized this information for more general use. Today a patient may fill in a form to request such information, and MSF, with the support of its field missions, can provide clear information about the medical situation in the country in question.
MSF offers assistance to the Rwandan population now living in Belgium – the majority of whom fled Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Through a project known as "Mpore" (meaning "Get up" in the Kinyarwandan language), MSF provides psychological assistance to Rwandans traumatized by the genocide. Mpore carries out therapy in the form of peer group discussions and individual sessions.
MSF has worked in Belgium since 1987.