Top doctors ‘extremely worried’ about Manus Island asylum seekers

‘s top medical colleges are demanding the Turnbull government to immediately provide care and treatment to the asylum seekers and refugees recently kicked out of the decommissioned Manus Island detention centre and likely experiencing trauma.

The presidents of the Royal n College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal n and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, have sent a letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton expressing their concern for the health of hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers recently transferred to new transit centres on the island.

It follows the release of footage showing the asylum seekers being threatened and intimidated by locals since being removed from the now-defunct detention centre.

“Our concerns involve their immediate health care access and living conditions; their ongoing health and wellbeing; and the impacts on Lorengau General Hospital and the Manusian community,” the letter reads.

The presidents, together representing 61,500 doctors, have called for improved transparency on living conditions and health care services, assurances about the provision of medications and the creation of a mental health service, amongst other things.

Dr Kym Jenkins, president of the psychiatrists’ college, said the transfer from one detention centre to another would place a severe toll on their mental health.

“Asylum seekers and refugees are among the most vulnerable and marginalised people, many having experienced torture, trauma and other catastrophic events,” she said.

“It is crucial that their psychiatric and other health needs are urgently addressed and that they receive the expert trauma-informed care they require.”

Dr Bastian Seidel, head of RACGP, said he was “extremely worried” about the wellbeing of the men.

“We cannot sit back knowing the standard of care received by those seeking asylum in is anything but acceptable,” he said.

“Many of the men … will be experiencing significant trauma. This is not about politics. This is about the health and safety of a group of very helpless people.”

Dr Catherine Yelland, president of RACP, said access to health care was a basic human right and the government must provide a guarantee that asylum seekers are getting the care they need.

“Many asylum seekers are already suffering physical and mental illness due to the reasons they had for leaving their homeland, and these issues are only exacerbated by mandatory detention,” she said.

” has a moral obligation to ensure asylum seekers are medically assessed, treated promptly and offered a standard of care that they would receive in any n hospital or community.”

In November, as the month-long standoff at the decommissioned Manus Island detention centre came to a violent end, 18 of ‘s most senior doctors – including Dr Seidel – wrote an open letter to the government offering to fly to Manus Island and treat patients for free.

The centre was closed after the PNG Supreme Court last year ruled the detention of asylum seekers at the facility on Manus Island was unconstitutional.

The refugees now have the option of resettling in PNG, waiting for possible resettlement in the United States, or returning to the country from which they fled from.

The federal government’s policy is to not allow any of the men to be resettled in under any circumstances.

Earlier this week, footage was released of Manusian locals threatening the asylum seekers, with one making death threats and shouting, “You’re a dead man”. One man wielded a long, metal pipe.

Mr Dutton on Monday dismissed the videos as “complete nonsense” and said the “propaganda must stop”.

The letter has also been sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt, Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt and Assistant Minister for Health David Gillespie.

Mr Dutton and Mr Hunt did not provide a response to Fairfax Media before deadline.

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