Illegal aliens to get medical help

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Norway’s left-center government coalition has decided to extend the country’s national health care services to illegal aliens, with clearer rules regarding the type of aid and emergency services to which they’ll be entitled.

Children arriving in Norway without identity papers, pregnant women and psychologically unstable persons will be granted full access to the state health care system, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Other illegal aliens will receive medical services, at taxpayer expense, if their needs are acute.

There are as many as 30,000 persons in Norway who have not been granted legal resident status, according to state statistics bureau SSB. Questions have arisen repeatedly over what sort of health care services they can be granted.

Some doctors and aid organizations have helped illegal aliens in need of medical care, while others have been refused health care services. That’s led to controversy on both sides of the issue, with some politicians claiming the state has no obligation to provide medical care to illegal aliens while others feel it’s inhumane to refuse help when the need arises.

While the government has tried to crack down on the numbers of would-be immigrants arriving in Norway, Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen and Justice Minister Knut Storberget (both from the Labour Party) now feel a need to clarify and standardize the rules.

“It’s important that we straighten up and clearly state what we believe is decent,” Storberget told Aftenposten. “I don’t want to live in a society where children, even if they’re illegal aliens, don’t get the health care they need.”

Opposition politicians seemed to support the clearer rules. The conservative Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) has traditionally advocated restrictions on immigration but called the government’s clarification of health care rights “reasonable.”

The Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) welcomed extension of medical care services to illegal aliens. “We don’t think this is about asylum or immigration politics, but rather about being humane,” said KrF leader Dagfinn Høybråten.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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