Globalisation was originally thought to be of benefit to people’s health, because of associated economic growth and reduced poverty. This has been rejected, and it is regarded as an ethical imperative to address global, national and local health care inequalities. Asylum seekers get a raw deal throughout the world and in the UK. They face: poor access to health care; stigma; high chance of mental health problems; detention at any time during their asylum application in the UK; and a ¾ chance of being refused asylum in the UK.
To take an overview of global health, focussing on the health of refugees and asylum seekers. Suggestions will be made on key issues to be addressed in a global health module at Liverpool University. The issue of child asylum seeker detention and it health affects as well as ethical implications will be examined in detail.
An interpretive approach, with visits to various health centres, NGOs and a prison. Histories were taken from service users and asylum seekers. A literature review was performed using Medline, Cinahl, PsycInfo, Scopus, and Amed databases, focussing on the issue of child asylum seeker detention.
The literature review yielded 41 publications; mostly of comment, few of original research. A key piece of research from the Lancet was critically appraised: ‘Mental health of detained asylum seekers’ by Keller et al.
Detention is detrimental to the mental health of asylum seekers, particularly for children. The longer the time spent in detention, the worse mental health becomes, while release from detention improves it. Detention centres holding children are often poorly run, and the Chief Inspector of prisons has stated that immigration removal centres can never be a suitable place for children. Combining the poor access to health care within detention, the conditions, the ordeal and the research evidence showing the detrimental health affects, child detention goes against the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966. As has been done in Australia and Sweden, the UK must stop the imprisonment of asylum seeking children.