Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Uninsured Woman Loses her Life




Press Release

Another Uninsured Woman Loses her Life
  

This time, it was a 40 year old uninsured mother of two young children from Mytilini. She died from a stroke because she didn’t have the money to pay for medication. The 40 year old hadn’t been taking her medication for some time now because she simply couldn’t afford it. 

The policy of excluding our uninsured fellow citizens from health care means that human life is endangered and often lost because of the indifference of the Greek Ministry of Health and the government. At a same time that banks and lenders receive billions of euros, the government can’t spend 700 million euro (according to the Greek Minister of Health, that’s all it would cost) to help 3 million uninsured citizens.

At our clinic we often see, patients who come to us after not being able to obtain (often for months) the treatment or medications necessary for their health. 

For how much longer do we have to measure the dead who could have been saved with a modest expenditure?  

Will the prosecutor investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of this 40 year old woman?

We want to emphasize that the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko has conducted a study which proves that even from an economic point of view, it is in the interest of the state to provide medical care to uninsured citizens. You can read more about that here.


Source for the news about the death of the 40 year old woman is: http://www.emprosnet.gr (in Greek language)


METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com



The First Results of the Health Monitor




Press Release

The First Results of the Health Monitor


It is with great pleasure that we announce the addition of the “Health Monitor” as a new complementary feature to our web page http://www.mkiellinikou.org.  Through this new link, our volunteers try to report the most significant recent facts pertaining to the field of Greek public health as such issues are published in the mass media.  Our sources consist of press reports, but also complaints that reach independent volunteer community clinics, all of which have been cross checked.

The aim of the Health Monitor is to be a means for a user to absorb quickly and simply any information that has to do with the Greek Public Health and the policies around it as they have been formed in our country during this economic crisis. 

We started gathering information in experimentally in July of 2013 and have re-doubled our efforts in 2014.  We try to add to this data-base of information so that it reflects a clear picture of Greek public health which is steadily deteriorating because of the inhuman policies that the Troika dictates.

The content of the Monitor is provided freely and each report is verified by its source - which is listed next to the report.  In cases where specific complaints are made by or of individuals or organizations, the responsibility for verifying such accusations rests with the pertinent community clinics involved.

We chose to record only real and verified events and to discard rumors and other sources of information.  Because we are volunteers and have to carefully allocate our time, we focus strictly on recent events accompanied by their source.

The reports are monthly and are divided into 13 categories:  Public Health, The Greek National Health System, the Uninsured, the Destitute, Statistics, Cancer Patients, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Mental Health, Mobilization of Medical Staff, and Volunteer Community Clinics.

Our reports are monthly as well as yearly.  To make it easier to follow items of interest, there is an option to select certain categories each month.  It’s understood that every item can apply to more than one category.  Our subject-categories may increase in the future.  For example, if we get more information, we may be obliged to add a category on hypertension patients.

To see the monitor, click here (the monitor is in Greek)


We hope to be able to go on improving the monitor.  If your have observations, recommendations or complaints, email mkie.paratiritirio@gmail.com.



METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have Hepatitis and are uninsured? It’s going to get interesting!



Press Release

Have Hepatitis and are uninsured?  It’s going to get interesting!


Are you suffering from hepatitis and you’re uninsured.  You’re out of luck!!  But, take comfort, you’re not alone….  This is the sweet message that the Greek Ministry of Health seems to be giving; we confess it makes no sense to us either.   

On 11 March, we sent to the Ministry of Health, and also to the General Secretariat of the Government an urgent letter asking them to find a solution for eight hepatitis patients who have come to our door.  We also sent notification regarding the eight by fax to the office of the Minister of Health as well as communicating the problem to them in person.  It is a problem that seriously affects public health.  We haven’t gotten a response as yet.

Unfortunately, our clinic cannot provide these patients with the extremely expensive medication that they need, without fail.  So these people are facing dire complications and there is a lurking danger that they may transmit their disease to others as well.

We are therefore pleading once more with the Ministry of Health – and this time publicly - for what should be OBVIOUS.  That these people must be given the proper medical attention at once and there should be a commitment by the Ministry that other such cases will be covered by the Greek Public Health System.  Doing otherwise puts our society in great danger.  This attitude by the Ministry is not only insensitive, but is also astonishingly irresponsible policy.  Patients with serious and contagious diseases cannot be ignored.

Here is a translation of the message that was sent by e-mail and fax on 11 March 2014 to the Greek Ministry of Health.

——- Forwarded message ———-
 From: Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helleniko <mkiellinikou@gmail.com>
 Date: 2014-03-11 15:36 GMT+02:00
 Subject: Emergency appeal for medication for patients with hepatitis Β and hepatitis C
 To: minister@yyka.gov.gr, Adonis Georgiadis <g-adonis@otenet.gr>
 Cc: gge@ggk.gr

    Helliniko 11/03/2014

TO THE HEALTH MINISTRY OF GREECE / Minister of Health, Mr. Andoni Georgiadi
COPY TO: Office of the Secretary General, Minister of Health
COPY TO: General Secretariat of the Government
   
SUBJECT: Emergency appeal for medication for patients with hepatitis Β and
hepatitis C

Mister Minister,

The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko makes an urgent appeal for the immediate attention to the very serious issue treatment of patients with active hepatitis B or C.  Uninsured patients do not systematically receive their treatment regimen.  They may receive it sporadically or not at all.  And this has consequences for themselves and for the community as a whole.  Treating the disease with Copegus and Pegasys inj is impossible for uninsured/indigent patients because of its cost.  The voluntary community clinics often find it impossible to supply this specific therapy.

The problem usually concerns young people, and creates a chain reaction of problems for the patients themselves and for the community as a whole.  It should promptly be given the appropriate solution, which is access to the correct drug therapy.

The question of these specific drugs was put to you in our visit to the ministry in January 2014, as well as in our written appeal.

Currently, we have eight patients battling these illnesses.  It is impossible for either them, or us to cover the expenses of these medications.  We –they – need your immediate help.

At your service,

Vassiliki Iliopoulou

For the Coordinating Committee of MCCH


METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Deep inequalities and worse health services for the Greeks




The findings of the research by IPSOS Institute, which focused on the last six months with the reforms of the Greek Ministry of Health still taking place, are 'a slap in the face' of Mr. Adonis Georgiadis (Greek Minster of Health).

The research was presented by Ms Tina Tripsa, head of IPSOS in Greece, at the conference of the Financial Times, which was held in collaboration with the Greek Society of Health Services Administration and Boussias Communications. The main theme of the conference was the economic crisis and its impact on Health. The basic conclusion is the existence of deep inequalities among Greek citizens regarding their access to health services and the increase of the private expenditure of patients for their medical treatment.

The survey was conducted during March in Athens, in Thessaloniki and in various other Greek cities, through telephone and face-to-face interviews. 624 Greek citizens took part, aged from 25 to 70 years, who have used health services in the last six months, either for themselves or for their children, while 40% of the cases involved chronically ill patients. 308 doctors from the NHS, EOPYY and the private sector participated in the survey as well.

According to this research, it seems that those who have been hit the most are the chronically ill. 71% of the patients who have lost their public medical insurance rights while on long term treatment, will not be able to go on with their treatment without having to pay for it in its entirety, according to the doctors' estimates. Doctors consider that 29% of them could continue their treatment if they turn to voluntary social services such as community clinics. However, 44% of the chronically ill who have lost their insurance are estimated to have their treatment already interrupted.

When asked "Have recent developments in the public health sector affected your ability to follow your normal treatment -and if so, in what way?" 4 out of 10 patients with chronic and rare illnesses have answered "Yes".

40% continue with the treatment, however they have to pay for their visits to the doctor.

26% missed certain doses.

25% had to pay out of their own pockets for medicines and medical tests.

24% stopped taking accompanying drugs.

20% discontinued the therapy for a certain period of time.

As a result, in 33% of these patients there is disease progression, 11% relapse and 14% show symptoms due to the discontinuation of the accompanying drugs.

Compared to the period before the crisis, 56% say that today their family pays more for health services, and 1 in 3 families “cut” from their diet in order to cope with this increase in private expenditure.

During the last six months, the overwhelming majority of Greeks had to pay extra for medicines or doctor visits, while doctors and patients alike found that the quality of public health services today are worse than the pre-crisis period  and that the recent measures of A. Georgiadis do not promote equal and fair access to the public health system. Specifically, 73% of the citizens and 81% of the doctors find the health services provided today worse, and 82% of the citizens and 78% of the doctors consider that the recent measures do not improve access.

This is the depiction of the situation experienced by Greek citizens in a health system rundown by austerity policies. As Ms Tripsa noted in her presentation, equality in Health is a constitutional right, while the creation or preservation of inequalities is due to the policies followed.

However, Mr. Georgiadis in his speech at the same conference, praised once again those who are ministers "during the memorandum era" and argued that "the real heroes of the times are the ones that keep Greece standing -and we did so by saying 'yes' and not by various trifle such as the 'heroic no' and the blackmail of Europe and the like"... As for the claim that the whole world recognizes the progress of the country besides the Greek journalists, the numbers of yet another research seem to refute him.




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com




Monday, March 31, 2014

A Resolution by the European Parliament, A Rebuke to Greece and the Troika



Press Release

A Resolution by the European Parliament
A Rebuke to Greece and the Troika

On 11 January 2014, the European Parliament passed resolution 17-0240/2014 with the title “Aspects pertaining to employment and social divisions connected to the role and actions of Troika.”

The resolution is a slap in the face of Greece as well as the Troika.  Among other things, it mentions that the European Parliament has been set aside while the Central European Bank has taken decisions outside its jurisdiction.  This resolution points out obvious mistakes in the proceedings concerning Troika’s role and they also point out that in the programs they planned failed to take social factors into account.  In this way, the vulnerable portions of the population have been hurt while unemployment has steadily climbed to alarming levels.

The results of such a “scheme”, which was based on a faulty financial multiplier, are self-evident in our country.  Poverty has reached the working class and the middle class, while poverty among children is constantly rising.  At the same time, the increase in mortgage defaults and foreclosures of homes steps heavily on human rights.  The whole situation is worsened by the cuts to the lowest salaries and the across-the-board cutbacks in health.  As the resolution points out, the reforms have had a serious impact on the overall quality not to mention plain access to health and social welfare services.  This is especially true in countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal Essentially the right to health has been totally ignored.

Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko was founded because of this denial health services to the most vulnerable in our society.

The European Parliament has gone a step further and is urgently recommending the EU to take immediate action to re-establish the basics of social protection and to take drastic measures towards this goal.  It also has called upon the European Commission, the ECB and the Euro group to review and revise, where necessary, the stern measures that have been implemented - and to accomplish this without delay. 

In addition, the European Parliament insists that they adhere to the legal obligations spelt out in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and that any omission to do this will constitute a violation of fundamental laws/rights of the EU.  It calls on the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union to examine in detail the impact of these measures on human rights and to submit strong recommendations whenever they feel that the Charter has been violated.  They also urge Troika and its relevant member states to stop destructive measures as soon as possible and to establish mechanisms for crisis management.

They go on to ask that the Commission and the Council to look into social imbalances and correct them by paying equal attention that they give to macroeconomic imbalances and to make sure that any adjustments are socially just and do not fail to keep a balance between economic development and employment, and between the implementation of structural reforms and fiscal consolidation. 

Among the recommendations given to the Commission and its member states is a recommendation that spending on health and education should be considered an investment that can lead to recovery. 

Finally, the European Parliament recommends conferring with and giving heed to the needs of the public - to listen to organizations of patients and professionals which are trying to protect vulnerable groups and to give them access to services and medicines.

We earnestly hope that the attention will be given to this resolution of the European Parliament.  After all, every day, we work with the needy and uninsured who turn to us for medicines and health services. 


May the voices in this resolution be heard and resonate clearly. 




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

There is Money!! – But Not for the Uninsured



Press Release

There is Money!! – But Not for the Uninsured



“7.9 billion Euro given as a guarantee to two banks, but 700 million Euro cannot be found for the three million uninsured citizens”

It is impossibly difficult to hide one’s indignation when you hear that there is money to support banks, but finding funds for the lives of citizens is impossible.

At the end of this past December, - according to the Greek Governmental Gazette 3319(27/12 2013) and 3379 (31 /12 /2013) the Greek government has provided cover for bond guarantees amounting to €3,609,600,000 for Alpha Bank and €4,280,000,000 for Eurobank/Ergasias.  That is, the Greek state is guaranteeing a total of €7,9 billion which is added to the national debt of our country.

During the same period, the budget of the Greek Public Health System (ESY) was dramatically reduced.  The results of these severe cut-backs were reported in one of the world’s leading medical journals, “The Lancet”

Here are some of The Lancet’s irrefutable observations:

-                From the 2009 through 2010 one third of programs aimed at preventing and treating and drug abuse were abolished
-                During the same period, syringes and condoms distributed to drug users were decreased by 10% and 24% respectively, with expected results:  the number of new HIV infections in drug users increased from 15 in 2009 to 484 in 2012.  Preliminary data for 2013 indicates that tuberculosis rates have more than doubled from 2012.
-                The drastic reduction in municipal budgets have resulted in the reduction of a number of local initiatives such as programs to spray against mosquitoes which, in combination with other factors, has brought malaria back to mainland Greece for the first time in 40 years.
-                Through a long series of austerity measures, the Greek state’s budget for hospitals has decreased by 26% between 2009 and 2011
-                One of the Troika’s basic goals was to reduce public spending for medications.  The goal was to decrease expenses from 4.37 billion in 2010 to 2.88 billion in 2012 (the target was met) and to 2 billion in 2014.  However, this has come with unforeseen “side-effects”.  Some medications are impossible to obtain because of delays in compensation to private pharmacies (which are the main distributors of medication subsidized by the Greek public health system).  This has created unsustainable debt burdens for the pharmacies.  Additionally, pharmaceutical companies have stopped supplying certain medicines altogether because of unpaid bills and decreased profit margins.
-                In 2011 the cost of a visit to an outpatient clinic in the Greek public health system increased from 3 euros to 5 euros.  The co-pay amount for prescribed medication increased 10% or more, depending on the condition treated.  2014 saw a new fee of one Euro per prescription (regardless of the medication prescribed).
-                Mental health services have been seriously affected since funding from the Greek state has been cut by 20% between 2010 and 2011 and by a further 55% between 2011 and 2012.  Meanwhile, studies show an increase in cases of major depression from 3.3% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2011.  A significant cause for this is often economic hardship.  Additionally, attempted suicides have increased 36% from 2009 to 2011.  Deaths from suicide have increased by 45% in the years 2007 to 2011.  
-                The percentage of children at risk because of poverty rose from 28.2% in 2007 to 30.4% in 2011.  More and more children are malnourished.  The 2012 report of the United Nationals stressed that “the right to health and access to health services is not respected for all children in Greece.”
-                The latest available figures show a 19% increase in the number of under-weight infants between 2008 and 2010.  Researchers from the Greek National School of Public Health have reported a 21% increase in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011 which is attributed to reduced access to pre-natal health services.  Infant mortality increased by 43% between 2008 and 2010.  The increase in deaths indicates reduced access to timely and effective health care, both during pregnancy and after delivery.

The study in The Lancet concludes:
“….the scale and speed of imposed change have constrained the capacity of the public health system to respond to the needs of the population at a time of heightened demand. The foundations for a well functioning health-care system need structures for comprehensive accountability, effective coordination and performance management, and use of the skills of health-care professionals and academics—not denialism.
The people of Greece deserve better.

So, we ask the question – how is it possible for the state to finance banks with billions of euros, but think nothing of making dramatic cuts to the Greek public health system, education system, pensions and wages.  The Greek Minister of Health publicly admitted in parliament (on Friday, 7 March) that the total annual cost to provide access to the Greek Public Health System for the 3 million citizens who are presently outside it is only €700 million.  Why is it that the government can guarantee 7.9 billion for two banks, but can’t find 700 million to save human lives?
How can some “people” impose conditions that not only put lives at risk, but lead to needless deaths on a large scale?  Meanwhile, the ordinary people who have bowed to austerity measures in order to repay the country’s lenders find themselves increasingly cut off from the health system.  The powers-that-be choose to pour additional billions into the banking system which before the crisis had large profits of even more billions.  Doesn’t seem right, does it?

Note: 
The article of the newspaper “The Independent” which reports on the Lancet’s study can be found on our blog under “Foreign Press Reports”



METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another Generous Donation from Greek-Australians

Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos,
a representative of the Greek-Australian organization “Ambassadors of Greece”

Press Release
Another Generous Donation from Greek-Australians


On Saturday 8 March we had the great pleasure to welcome to MCCH Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos,  a representative of the Greek-Australian organization “Ambassadors of Greece”.  He brought, for the second time in seven months, a significant contribution of medications for the clinic.

It is gratifying and important for us to see people respond and become active to help those most vulnerable in this time of crisis – especially when it is done by Greeks from abroad.  The “Ambassadors of Greece” made their first donation in September of 2013, collected in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria thorough eight Greek schools.


Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos (right) together with the volunteer- board members
of MCCH – Vassiliki  Iliopoulou, George Vichas and Christo Sideris.

This time, the donation came from the “Ambassadors of Greece” working in cooperation with the members of the Cretan Fraternity and the Greek community of Melbourne

Below is part of a letter from our Greek-Australian brothers which came with their generous and supportive donation.

Today, once again, the Greeks of Melbourne are at your side.  The Ambassadors of Greece have informed us of your sacred mission carried out by all the volunteers and doctors at the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko.

With the cooperation of the members of the Cretan Fraternity and the Greek community of Melbourne, we collected 12,890 AUD for the purchase of needed medications

We donate this to you with much love, from far-away Australia and we hope in this way to help the needy patients of your clinic.  We purchased the medications in Greece, and in this way, we are trying to bolster the Greek economy

Our support will continue in the future.  Together and united, Greeks from all over the world, as Ambassadors of Greece, can accomplish a great deal.


The efforts of the “Ambassadors of Greece” demanded a high level of coordination and a tremendous effort at every step.   All of our volunteers and our patients deeply thank our Greek-Australian compatriots who have shown us love in action.




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com