Denmark offers free medical help to Ukrainians awaiting residence permits

All Ukrainians who have applied for residence in Denmark under the recently-adopted special law for refugees from the country will from Wednesday have access to essential medical services while their applications are being processed.

Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke
Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke has confirmed a governmental order giving Ukrainian refugees access to national health services while they await processing of asylum claims. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The Ministry of Health announced the provision in a statement on Monday. The special law for Ukrainian refugees was passed last month and streamlines the application process for temporary residence and work rights for Ukrainians in Denmark due to the Russian invasion and subsequent war in their country, which began in February.

“We are in an unusual situation in which many displaced people from Ukraine are waiting to get temporary residence in Denmark,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said in the statement.

“There’s a need to ensure they get the necessary health services, for example treatment for chronic diseases and pain relief during the period until they receive temporary residence,” he said.

“We are therefore now extending the right to essential health services,” he said.

A new executive order has been issued to enable the decision because the special law does not account for medical needs.

Under normal circumstances, non-EU nationals awaiting decisions on their residence applications in Denmark do not have automatic access to the public health system, with some using private health insurance to cover the waiting period.

READ ALSO: Applying for residency in Denmark: Why you might need health insurance during processing period

The health ministry said that the executive order for health care will cover Ukrainians accommodated privately, by municipalities and at asylum centres alike.

However, the former two cases require arrangements to first be made between the ministry and health authorities, municipalities and the medical organisation for GPs, PLO (Praktiserende Lægers Organisation).

The chairman of the doctors’ organisation, Jørgen Skadborg, told news wire Ritzau he welcomed the political decision.

“It’s important that we have clear medical services for Ukrainian refugees. That’s why I’m proud of the many GPs who have provided voluntary medical advice,” he said in a written comment.

“There is now an executive order, as there should be, and I look forward to PLO members being able to continue helping refugees under a proper arrangement,” he said.

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UPDATED: Denmark’s government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Denmark’s government has said it will support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership after the European Commission deemed the country’s candidacy viable.

UPDATED: Denmark's government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Ukraine’s bid to be part of the EU got a majority backing in Danish Parliament on Friday after the European Commission backed the bid.

“It is really, really important that Europe opens the door for Ukraine, so that we can get started to ensure that Ukraine can be ready for EU membership,” foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Aastrup told newswire Ritzau.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter that Denmark was looking forward to continuing cooperation with Ukraine on reforms.

The possibility for Ukraine to become part of the EU is conditional on Ukraine implementing reforms – on rule of law, oligarchs, human rights and tackling corruption – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. She added that “good work has been done.”

Candidacy status is a significant step to joining the EU but the whole process can take years.

“When a candidate’s status is granted, it is not the same as Ukraine being ready to join the EU. There are a large number of criteria to be met and there are a large number of outstanding ones that Ukraine lacks. These are some of the things that are being addressed”, Michael Aastrup said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will attend a meeting in Brussels next week where the recommendation from the European Commission will be voted and signed off by the EU’s 27 member states. France, Germany and Italy have also already backed Ukraine’s bid but the decision has to be unanimous.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that status as a candidate for EU membership is vital to his country, while the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the question could be decisive in the war to defend Ukraine from invasion by Russia.

READ MORE: Number of Ukrainian refugees working in Denmark triples in one month