July 10, 2020

Improve psychological care for foreign minors, pending subject

The unaccompanied foreign minors who arrive in Spain leave behind in many cases realities of abuse, abuse, marginalization or war that cause great consequences that must be addressed with adequate and early psychological care, something that, according to pediatricians, must be improved in Spain.

After weeks and even months of traveling in precarious conditions from their countries of origin until they manage to cross the Spanish border "the vast majority" arrive malnourished to the pediatricians' consultations and sometimes, along the way, they can get hooked on substances Like cannabis

Efe assures the head of the Hospital Pediatric, Infectious and Tropical Diseases Service of the La Paz Children's University Hospital (Madrid), María José Mellado, who explains that normally these unaccompanied foreign minors (menas) also arrive with intestinal parasites.

When from the reception center they are taken to the consultation for the first time newly arrived in the country, the pediatricians do a health test to rule out that they have something important, try to know if they are vaccinated and take the opportunity to talk with them about their customs and to instill healthy habits.

"Pediatricians are a key piece for the integration of the ores. We try that they see that health is very important, but also that they learn the language and a trade," says Mellado, who emphasizes that most children take advantage of opportunities offered to them.

Thus, the pediatrician not only cares about his physical health, but also about his personal situation to know the reality of his family: "father killed in war, mother deceased, two sisters abducted" are some of the testimonies of these unaccompanied minors , which, therefore, have "an emotional handicap."

"They have many emotional problems, some have experienced miserable situations, they have been child soldiers, many of them also come with war wounds. They are cannon fodder children from the point of view of the sociopsychological risk they have," the expert abounds.

If they see a minor with significant psychological problems, they divert him to Mental Health, but psychological care in Spain in general "is something that, undoubtedly, has to improve" and in the case of these minors, who are at risk population, more still.

"There are not enough professionals in public health that can attend to children, or those at high risk like these and that is a point where we have to work and we all have to be aware," Mellado adds.

In the same sense, the coordinator of the Committee of Social and Community Pediatrics of the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPap), José Ignacio Pérez, who stresses, in statements to Efe, the importance of early risk identification, especially in regard to mental health.

"They are smaller than, probably, in a first contact you cannot capture everything behind," explains Pérez, who points out that the protocol to follow in these cases varies depending on the autonomous community.

Thus, the pediatrician adds, there is some autonomy, such as Asturias, which has psychosocial risk identification programs that extend to all minors, not just unaccompanied foreigners. "They are asked and investigated to anticipate and implement all those policies to correct that bias," he says.

He insists that if these children are not treated in time, the problems they have are going to be chronicled and exacerbated unless we are able to carry out "a fundamentally educational and social work intervention," he says.

In his opinion, there must be coordination between pediatricians, social workers, educators and other agents involved to ensure that these people "tomorrow do not end up in marginality."

There is another problem, as Mellado and Pérez agree, and although it depends on the autonomous community, most pediatricians can only see these children until they turn 14 because, like the rest of children, when they meet All 15 go to be attended by adult doctors.

. (tagsToTranslate) Improve (t) psychological (t) foreigners (t) subject (t) pending

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