Nordic ministers of social affairs and health to discuss challenges with migration

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 25.4.2016 11.38
Press release 58/2016

Social welfare and health care services for asylum seekers and immigrants are a topic of discussion for Nordic ministers. Nearly 250,000 asylum seekers arrived in the Nordic countries last year and the situation also has an impact on the social welfare and health care sector.

Finland's, Sweden's, Norway's, Denmark's, Iceland's, Åland's and Greenland's ministers responsible for social welfare and health care will meet in Helsinki on Wednesday 27 April. Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Mäntylä and Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula will represent Finland.

The Nordic countries are faced with common social welfare and health care challenges including health check-ups for asylum seekers, infectious diseases and vaccinations, minors, who have arrived alone and social welfare services for children, the elderly and the disabled.

All the Nordic countries have implemented infectious disease screenings for immigrants and asylum seekers. In Finland, asylum seekers are given health check-ups and infectious disease screenings in reception centres. Adult asylum seekers have the right to urgent and essential social welfare and health care services.  Asylum seekers, who are minors, have the right to the same social welfare and health care services as Finnish children.

Ministers Mäntylä and Rehula emphasise the importance of cross-administrative cooperation in social welfare and health care services for asylum seekers and migrants as well as in their integration.

"It is of utmost importance to secure specifically the service needs of women, children and other vulnerable groups"; says minister Mäntylä.

"Successful integration requires cooperation in many different sectors, we need to look at the big picture", minister Rehula continues.

At present, Nordic countries collaborate in the integration of refugees and immigrants via for example the Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare. The role of the Council of Ministers in the support of integration will also be strengthened.

The social welfare and health care minister conference organised in Helsinki is part of Finland's programme as the 2016 chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The objective of the meeting will be to engage in discussion as well as share information and good practices related to social welfare and health care services for asylum seekers. At the meeting, the ministers will also issue a joint declaration on collaboration within the public health sector in order to reduce health inequalities.

Information for media: Ministers can be interviewed during the meeting on Wednesday 27 April 14.30 - 14.55. Please sign-up in advance on Tuesday 26 April by 16.00: Communications Officer Anne-Sofie Pesola, tel. +358 295 163 625 or viestinta(at)stm.fi

Further information:
Ministerial Adviser Maria Waltari, tel. +358 2951 633 37
Ministerial Counsellor Viveca Arrhenius, tel. +358 29516 3286

On the MSAH website
Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers

Hanna Mäntylä Juha Rehula