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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Greek Public Health System is dismantled



PRESS RELEASE
The Greek Public Health System is dismantled

At The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko we see, on a daily basis, the grim results of destructive policies to the public health system.  These policies have been years in the making and as a result, more and more people have been cut off from public heath.  The chronically ill without access to medical treatment, pregnant women without pre-natal care or a safe place to give birth, malnourished infants, as parents cut back on baby formula, unvaccinated children, carriers of serious diseases without medication, cancer patients with tumours neglected.  Many serious diseases, including cancer, have been neglected for too long.  And even insured patients often find no relief since certain drugs have become alarmingly scarce.

The last straw is that more and more people are without electricity or water because they cannot pay their bills.  In one case an unemployed person couldn’t afford the bus fare of €1.20 and they were finally fined €720 (no, that was not a typographical error).

These are people who have been working and paying into social insurance funds all their lives, but have lost it all now that they have become unemployed and have subsequently lost their public health insurance as well.  They are now literally at God’s mercy. 

We are haunted, daily, at our clinic by such hardships of our patients.  We cannot but be staggered with emotion and anger as we try to face all these individual tragedies.  And just as the voluntary solidarity clinics are all calling for help and gathering medications – sometimes pill by pill – to save lives, the Ministry of Health announces that for a fee of €25, patients will be admitted to a public hospital.  They are condensing and reducing the number of available beds as well as hospital staff.  They are doing away with the services of the four pharmacies for the uninsured run by EOPPY (The Greek Organization for Public Health) and they are closing ALL the mental health faculties by calling on family members to take the patients back into the home.  At the same time, cots have re-appeared in hospital halls, creating pathetic scenes.  The plan for the fate of primary health care system – if it exists at all – is unknown and lost in endless debates about doing away totally with EOPPY.

The “clear cut” directions that had been announced by the Minister of Health in the summer to deal with the serous problem of uninsured patients in public hospital are anything but practically feasible and the whole problem is now labelled as “logistical”.  That means that if the patient cannot pay, the entire matter will go to the tax office with the well known consequences of all debts  

The reality is that around half of the Greek population no longer has access to the public health system.  According to official records, presented by the president of EOPPY, Mr. Kontou there are 3,000,000 uninsured citizens.  Another 3,300,000 are insured, but among them are many who have closed shops, or those who are employed, but have no health insurance rights.  The Minister of Health himself has publicly stated that “we can no longer ensure the access of all citizens to public health.”  In other words, we’re giving priority to paying our debts and not to public health or the health of the individual - individuals who are facing the worst economic decade since the 1930’s.  The severely wrong political choices made by successive governments over the last several years have gotten us to this point; it is the simple citizens that now have to pay the bill.

The Minister of Health and the government present us with the plight of our country which is getting steadily worse, like some sort of exaggerated disaster movie. And they can do nothing for public health other than throwing a few crumbs.

These political choices are not a matter of “logistics”, they mean those sick and shut out of the system are dying in their thousands.  It is deeply wrong.




Here is a list of sources for all the facts mentioned above.  They are in the Greek language, but we translate the titles for you here, along with the web address:

Victims of the humanitarian crisis – the unemployed, uninsured women and motherhood

The country is open to the risk of losing primary health care because of mobility
http://www.ygeia360.gr/el/news/item/6232-anoixtos-kindynos-na-meinei-h-xwra-proswrina-xwris-prwtobathmia-frontida-logw-kinhtikothtas

Express Exit for the Mentally Ill
http://iatroi.eu/2013/11/03/e%CE%BE%CF%89%CF%83%CE%B7-%CE%B5%CE%BE%CF%80%CF%81%CE%AD%CF%82-%CF%83%CE%B5-%CF%88%CF%85%CF%87%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AC-%CF%80%CE%AC%CF%83%CF%87%CE%BF%CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%82/

Prosecution for those who owe more than 5,000 euro to the public coffers”
http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22770&subid=2&pubid=63788839

Repeal of the childbirth allowance, reduction of physiotherapy, reduction of supplement for ety glasses and reduction of personnel in EOPPY 
http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.ellada&id=346846

Zero-hour for Evangelismos Hospitaltemporary cots choke hospital halls” (photo-documentary)
http://www.iatropedia.gr/articles/read/5366

“More than 3,000,000 Greeks are uninsured”
http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=387049

Antonis: we cannot ensure access of all to the public health system, as we would like to do”
http://www.koutipandoras.gr/46159/%CE%AC%CE%B4%CF%89%CE%BD%CE%B9%CF%82-%CE%B4%CE%B5%CE%BD-%CE%BC%CF%80%CE%BF%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%8D%CE%BD-%CF%8C%CE%BB%CE%BF%CE%B9-%CE%BD%CE%B1-%CE%AD%CF%87%CE%BF%CF%85%CE%BD-%CF%80%CF%81%CF%8C%CF%83%CE%B2.html

Circular issued by the Health Ministry regarding severely ill uninsured patients”
http://static.diavgeia.gov.gr/doc/%CE%92%CE%9B4%CE%9C%CE%98-2%CE%9F%CE%9B

“The transport services show a relentless face”

“Appeal from the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helleniko”
http://mki-ellinikou.blogspot.gr/2013/05/blog-post_30.html

“Appeal for Patients of Sotiria Hospital”
http://mki-ellinikou.blogspot.gr/2013/04/blog-post_25.html

The sources listed below are from our blog, which you will find in the English language:

“Áre we with the Darkness or the Light”
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/09/are-we-with-darkness-or-light.html 

Urgent Appeal for a Cancer Patient to the Ministry of Health”
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/08/urgent-appeal-to-laiko-hospital-and.html

“Representative of the Ministry of Health Revealed on the BBC”
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/08/the-collapse-of-public-health-system-in.html

“The Odyssey of the Indigent and Uninsured Patient”
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/06/the-odyssey-of-uninsured-and-indigent.html

“Family of Six on the Edge of Desperation”
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/03/a-family-of-six-on-edge-of-desperation.html



METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLENIKO

  Working Hours
(MONDAY-FRIDAY 10:00-14:00) (MONDAY 17:00-20:00) 
(TUESDAY 14:00-20:00) (WEDNESDAY 16:00-20:00) (THURSDAY 14:00-20:00)
(FRIDAY 14:00-19:00) (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

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