The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has raised grave concerns for the wellbeing of refugee and asylum seeker children held on Nauru after Medecins Sans Frontier (Doctors Without Borders) was forced to stop providing care on the island.
"We've known for some time that the situation for children and their families on Nauru constitutes a medical emergency. Now we hold grave fears for the health and wellbeing of those MSF were treating, said Professor Paul Colditz, a paediatrician and President of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division within the RACP.
MSF has been providing vital psychological and psychiatric care to 78 refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, including children experiencing severe mental health conditions.
"Without this specialist care there is now increased risk of the severe health consequences from inadequately treated medical conditions, trauma related symptoms such as self-harm, severe withdrawal and refusing to eat or drink, said Professor Colditz.
The RACP reiterates its call on the Australian Parliament to act on its duty of care and immediately transfer all refugee and asylum seeker children and their families from Nauru to Australia.
"These children and their families need an urgent assessment in a specialist tertiary level child health facility, where their medical, developmental and social-emotional (psychiatric) health can be assessed and treated in accordance with specialist recommendations.
Last week, the RACP and joined the Australian Medical Association and 180 other organisations and individuals who call on the Australian Government to release refugee and asylum seeker children and their families from Nauru by Universal Children's Day (20 November).