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Antenatal care for asylum seekers

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Despite the challenges, the provision of high-quality specialist antenatal health care in immigration detention is a constant

Recent commentaries have criticised health care provision in the Australian immigration detention environment, particularly in the areas of antenatal and postnatal care.1,2 As the contracted health care provider, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) acknowledges the inherent challenges the immigration detention environment presents. It is our wish to contribute current facts and observations to this topical public debate.

Ongoing enhancement to the antenatal and postnatal care of detainees in immigration detention centres on Christmas Island and Nauru has resulted in a specialist supervised obstetric service providing care at a standard comparable to that on the Australian mainland. Maternity care is provided from the diagnosis of pregnancy until the 6-week postnatal check, paralleling Australian community standards and Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines.3 Routine assessments, imaging, pathology tests, hospital referrals and referrals to mental health services all occur as per established Australian standards.

Although there are no resident obstetricians on either island, specialist obstetricians have…