Stockholm 19 June 2017

The right to healthcare on equal terms

Statement from the Right to Care Initiative


The health care provided today to Undocumented Migrants and EU-migrants is characterized by

significant disparities in knowledge about the legislation and its application. The health care

therefore varies considerably throughout the country. Consequently, people with clear healthcare

needs are still denied treatment to which they are entitled. This is incompatible with basic medical

ethics and unacceptable under the rule of law.


From a patient safety approach, the same basic requirements must be put on all care. To introduce

legal barriers to timely healthcare for the right patient can endanger the patient’s safety and should

for that reason not be accepted.


The present, ambiguous and difficult-to-interpret legislation in Sweden disfavours specifically

vulnerable groups of people. The organizations behind the Right to Care Initiative have in a

statement in November 2013 rejected the term "care that cannot be deferred" as medically

unserviceable and unethical.


EU-migrants who do not have health insurance in their own country are not entitled to subsidized

care at all. In practice, this makes it impossible for them to receive healthcare in Sweden. This is not

humanitarian and is incompatible with Sweden's human rights commitments.


The current situation daily puts healthcare professionals in conflict with the ethical codes of the

professions and amounts to that the prevailing, contradictory legislation may constitute a work

environment hazard, which was also emphasized by the official government inquiry Health Care for

Undocumented Migrants et al. in the year 2011. There are obvious, substantial humanitarian

arguments, as well as a from a public health perspective and national economics, reasons to offer

healthcare on equal terms to each and every one in need of care.


Sweden has committed to respecting the fundamental human rights. The right to the highest

attainable standard of health applies to everyone who resides within the jurisdiction of each state

regardless of legal status. Sweden is obliged to respect, protect and fulfil this right for all.


We therefore call on the Swedish Parliament and Government to immediately ensure that asylum

seekers, undocumented migrants and vulnerable EU-citizens residing in Sweden are entitled to

healthcare as needed and on equal terms regardless of origin or legal status. We expect more

coherent legislation and a clarification of how the legislation is to be applied at the national level.


Sweden has a long tradition of solidarity with vulnerable peoples and communities. In this spirit, it is

consequential, right and decent that a rich, humanitarian and democratic society does not limit

vulnerable people's right to the best possible health through a healthcare or dental care on equal



Associations endorsing the statement

Audionomerna Swedish Association of Audiologists 

Dietisternas riksförbund Swedish association of clinical dietitians

IBL The Swedish Institute of Biomedical Science

Svenska barnläkarföreningen The Swedish Paediatric Society

Sveriges farmaceuter Swedish Pharmacists Association

Sveriges läkarförbund Swedish Medical Association

Svenska barnmorskeförbundet The Swedish Association of Midwives

Sveriges psykologförbund Swedish Psychological Association

Svensk förening för röntgensjuksköterskor Swedish Society of Radiographers

Sveriges tandhygienistförening The Swedish Dental Hygienist Association

Sveriges tandläkarförbund Swedish Dental Association


Akademikerförbundet SSR The Union for Professionals

Svenska logopedförbundet Swedish association of Speech and Language Pathologists

Svenska läkaresällskapet The Swedish Society of Medicine
Vårdförbundet the Swedish Association of Health Professionals
Sveriges arbetsterapeuter Swedish Association of Occupational Therapists

Svensk optikerförening Swedish Optometrist Association
Svensk sjuksköterskeförening Swedish Society of Nursing
Fysioterapeuterna Swedish Association of Physiotherapists