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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ministry of Health Voucher Program: Of What Value?


Helliniko 21 August 2013

PRESS RELEASE
Ministry of Health Voucher Program: Of What Value?

The unemployment rate is 28% and the workforce of the country is just 4 out of 10 Greeks.  At this moment, the Ministry of Health springs on us a voucher program for health.  This is an attempt to impress the public and cloud the picture of the true tragic situation of the hundreds of thousands of uninsured citizens.
The new program, as announced, is a drop in the ocean.  It will serve 100,000 uninsured.  According to press reports, the true level of uninsured is more than 3.5 million (including previously insured shop owners and free-lancers who have closed their shops and businesses together with their dependents). 
We believe this new program, which is expected to last only two years, is glaringly inadequate for the following reasons.
1.      It doesn’t cover all the uninsured.  And it has limits and ceilings, according to region, on doctor’s visits (three visits to take place within four months). 
2.      It doesn’t cover secondary health care, i.e. hospitalization or specific treatment protocols
3.      Pharmaceutical treatment and medication is not even mentioned.
4.      It does not specify if this plan covers all the instances of tests and treatment that a patient may need.
We believe that there are multiple questions that the Ministry of Health must make clear.
  1. What will happen to the uninsured-indigent-unemployed cancer patient who needs chemotherapy?
  2. What will happen to the uninsured-indigent-unemployed pregnant woman who must have prenatal tests and a place of safe delivery?
  3. What will happen to the children with serious illnesses who require hospital treatment whose parents have no insurance cover and cannot afford to pay for hospitalization?  And what about the medications they might need?
The famous voucher program that we have waited for so long says absolutely nothing about these situations.
Mr. Minister, you must give a solution to our fellow citizens whose lives are in immediate danger because they do not have free access to the public health system.
We believe it is important to mention that this particular “initiative” of the Ministry of health refers to the revised memorandum of July 2013.  In the 234 pages of this memorandum (which you can read here: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2013/pdf/ocp159_en.pdf ) fewer than 3 pages (33-35) are devoted to the health sector in Greece.  Specifically, on page 35 in one paragraph, it states that this program will last two years and has a budget of 46 million Euro. 
After five years of crisis and three years of economic memoranda we continue to ignore human need in favour of a tidy balance sheet.  The humanitarian crises that we are experiencing will have tragic repercussions on us all.  Think about it.  More than 5.1 million of our fellow citizens (just under half the population) live under the poverty level.  There are 1.4 million officially unemployed.
The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko has been pleading with the government for more than a year and a half.  We want to government to deeply reflect on the sinister consequences of their policies for poor citizens.  The constitution of the country has been blatantly violated; human rights have been disregarded.  The recent resolutions regarding public health advocated by the European Council – especially for the countries hard hit by the economic crisis, are our guides. (read here: http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/07/blog-post.html )   
After all the misery sustained by the people, even now, instead a public health system that is universal, the Ministry of Health is hastily adopting another frustrating bureaucratic plan that still leaves out most uninsured patients.  By referring to funds from ESPA (The National Strategic Reference Framework) and misinformation to the public, the Ministry of Health is hoping to impress us with an aspirin, when a much more radical cure is needed.
We remain firmly committed to the fight to open the public health system to all without exception.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Una clínica social en Grecia atiende a los pacientes que pierden la cobertura gratuita

*article in spanish published on eldiario.es

Clinica Social Helliniko
Exterior de la Clínica Social de Helliniko, ubicada en la antigua base militar americana / Susanna Arús y Blanca Blay
Cinco personas esperan en recepción mientras los administrativos abren fichas y conciertan las próximas visitas. Ninguno de ellos tiene cobertura médica gratuita. En el sistema de salud pública de Grecia, a diferencia de España, uno pierde su cobertura cuando lleva más de un año en el paro. Por si no fuera suficiente con el drama del desempleo en el país, los principales sindicatos de médicos calculan que cerca de un millón y medio de personas no tienen actualmente acceso a los servicios del Sistema Nacional de Salud. Sin ningún tipo de seguro y a menudo sin los recursos económicos para pagarse una visita, medicamentos para un tratamiento o incluso una operación, algunos de estos ciudadanos se ven acorralados y su salud se ve amenazada.
Doctor Giorgios Vichas
El doctor Giorgios Vichas en una de las consultas de la clínica / Susanna Arús y Blanca Blay
Giorgos Vichas, un veterano cardiólogo del EOPYY - el mayor proveedor de servicios médicos públicos en Grecia-, se empezó a dar cuenta de ello. "Algunos de mis pacientes dejaron de visitarme porque habían perdido su cobertura y no podían pagarse las consultas o los medicamentos que yo les recetaba", explica. Con la vocación sobre sus hombros decidió encontrar una manera de ayudarles así como a otras personas que también se habían quedado sin seguro. Así fue como le surgió la idea de montar una clínica social, donde él y otros profesionales del mundo sanitario trabajarían como voluntarios. Dos años después, esta idea es una realidad. La Clínica Social Metropolitana de Helliniko, ubicada en una antigua base militar americana en esta municipalidad, atiende una media de 70 personas al día. "La mayoría de ellos - afirma Vichas- son gente de clase media que hace un año tenían una vida muy digna pero que se quedaron sin trabajo".
El doctor llama a uno de los cinco pacientes que esperan en la recepción de la clínica. Govostis Stamatis, camarero de profesión y desempleado desde hace cinco años, entra en la consulta. Padece diabetes y necesita tratamiento a diario así como realizar chequeos médicos de forma regular. "Sin la ayuda de la clínica ahora mismo estaría muerto" explica, tras recordar el día en que, "avergonzado, decidí acudir a la Clínica Social en Helliniko". Sus niveles de azúcar estaban disparados, podían producirle un coma, y le derivaron urgentemente al hospital público Sotiria. Allí le trataron pero cuando la persona del departamento de finanzas apareció para preguntarle cómo iba a pagar por la medicación se sintió atrapado. "No tenía trabajo ni dinero y el doctor Vichas se involucró personalmente para solucionar la situación", dice Govostis. En ocasiones son los mismos doctores y voluntarios quienes ejercen de mediadores entre los pacientes y las oficinas de gestión de finanzas de los hospitales. En casos extremos, han llegado a acompañar a sus pacientes a la farmacia y pagar de sus bolsillos los medicamentos.
El espacio donde ahora el doctor atiende a Govostis es propiedad del estado. Estaba "en venta" y se había especulado sobre la construcción de un casino, pero después de que Giorgos Vichas hablara con el alcalde de Helliniko, el futuro de la base ha sido otro. La clínica es hoy ampliamente conocida en el municipio y el ayuntamiento cubre los gastos de los distintos suministros de ésta. Por otro lado, el material, desde muebles hasta equipo técnico sanitario, lo han conseguido gracias a las donaciones de otros profesionales del sector privado que les han cedido tras jubilarse.
Por turnos y con un horario que se adapta a su disponibilidad, unos 230 voluntarios -90 de ellos personal médico- se han volcado a esta iniciativa. Cualquier ayuda es bien recibida, desde atención de llamadas, clasificación de medicamentos o gestión de la página web, hasta transporte de material. Uno de estos voluntarios, Eleni Gerakari, estudió económicas y en su tiempo libre acude a la clínica para ayudar con los servicios de comunicación y visitas de la prensa. Hablando un inglés perfecto explica como "el número de pacientes se ha incrementado de forma dramática en los últimos meses, por este motivo también se han multiplicado el número de donaciones y han llegado aún más voluntarios".
voluntario Panos Papadopoulos
Panos Papadopoulos ayuda de forma voluntaria en el almacenamiento de los medicamentos / Susanna Arús y Blanca Blay
Otro de ellos, Panos Papadopoulos, se encarga de gestionar los fármacos que les llegan. Se asegura que no estén caducados, los clasifica y los borra de la lista que desde la web van actualizando sobre el material que necesitan. "La sala donde guardamos los medicamentos es el orgullo de nuestra clínica, al principio tan solo contábamos con un armario, y ahora, la habitación está llena", dice Panos. Mientras, Eleni observa con satisfacción cómo llega una nueva tanda de medicamentos dentro de bolsas de plástico, en las que sobretodo hay productos alimenticios para bebés. "Proveemos ayuda a recién nacidos de cien familias. Se ha llegado a dar el caso en que un hospital público se quedara con un recién nacido hasta que la madre que dio a luz les proveyera con el dinero", comenta Eleni mientras las bolsas se van acumulando en el suelo.
Estos casos no han pasado desapercibidos por el Consejo de Europa, que ha dado la voz de alarma sobre los peligros de la austeridad, especialmente cuando el derecho al acceso a la salud pública está de por medio. En el informe hacen referencia a una "crisis sanitaria y hasta humanitaria que afecta cada vez a más gente, principalmente desempleados, inmigrantes, refugiados, mujeres y niños" y remarcan la situación "especialmente preocupante de las mujeres embarazadas que no tienen cobertura médica y no pueden afrontar los gastos de entre 800 y 1200 euros que reclaman los hospitales tras dar a luz."
Sala de medicamentos
Sala de la clínica donde los voluntarios clasifican y almacenan los medicamentos que les llegan / Susanna Arús y Blanca Blay
El ritmo no cesa en la clínica. Si bien todos están contentos con el trabajo que han hecho y hacen cada día, confían en que la clínica no exista para siempre. "Esperemos que este centro no sea un proyecto a largo plazo, que no sea un sistema de salud paralelo", dice el doctor Vichas. Ahora en la sala de espera sólo quedan cuatro personas, desde la consulta del dentista llaman al paciente siguiente.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recognition of MCCH by the Council of Europe and the European Union




 Helliniko 14 August 2013

PRESS RELEASE
Recognition of MCCH by the Council of Europe and the European Union

The program “Responding Together” of the Council of Europe and of the European Union reached a decision to recognize the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Hellinko as an example of the way citizens respond to and try to overcome poverty and social exclusion.  Specifically, MCCH is cited for actions in health (read more here https://respondingtogether.wikispiral.org/.  MCCH is discussed in the following link https://respondingtogether.wikispiral.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=380 )

The program’s aim is to raise awareness among the citizens of Europe on what their fellow European citizens are experiencing with exclusion from the public health system.  Additionally, they want to show ways that people are not only coping with, but trying to change the situation

Recently on 26 June 2013 the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a resolution calling on equal access of all citizens to health care (read more about the resolution http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/07/resolution-1946-2013-of-council-of.html ).  We believe this resolution is vital in the case of Greece.

The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helleniko will continue to fight to gain FREE access to public health care for all uninsured citizens, without exception.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Answer of Laiko Hospital to Our Urgent Appeal for a Cancer Patient



Helliniko 8 August 2013

PRESS RELEASE
The Answer of Laiko Hospital to Our Urgent Appeal for a Cancer Patient

MCCH issued a 2nd press release on Tuesday 6 August 2013 regarding the especially serious failure of Laiko Hospital to provide necessary medication for a 53 year old cancer patient.  Two days later, on 8 August we received the following reply from the hospital.  You will find the full text of the letters below – you can draw your own conclusions.

As The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko, we are obliged to ask the Ministry of Health and the administration of the Laiko Hospital the following questions.

-    For what reasons does “the pharmacy of Laiko Hospital lacks this particular medication” as Mr. Polyzos states in his letter.

-    The cancer patient in question IS INSURED by “Pronia”, a state welfare scheme.  State hospitals are obliged to give any holder of a health booklet under this plan the medication he or she needs.  This didn’t happen.  Why?

-    We are especially pleased that the company producing the medicine will make it available to our patient.  But what will happen with other patients who find themselves in the same situation?  Where will they get their medication?  Our patient is not the only one who has gotten his prescription for life saving medications back from a state hospital stamped with “this medication not available”.  What must these patients do?  Go from volunteer clinic to volunteer clinic until they find one who will make the fuss that we made in the past week with two press releases?  And what about the psychological damage?  It’s hard enough to fight for your life against cancer.  Can these patients summon the strength to fight the burearcracy as well?  Does anyone in the Ministry of Health lose sleep over what they are doing to these patients? 

-    Will the Ministry of Health finally make provision for these situations and, will they finally answer to what will happen to the tens of thousands of UNINSURED citizens who have no access to the Public Health System.

We emphasize that we deeply respect the doctors, and health care staff of the state hospitals.  They struggle every day to face challenges that cannot be overstated.  They are doing their best to care for their patients while coping with the austerity measures dictated by the Ministry of Health and by most (not all) hospital authorities.

We cannot stand silently by when we see these types of criminal acts every day.  It is mainly the uninsured patients who are suffering, but, as in this case, insured ones as well. 

We have to call them as we see them and demand ANSWERS.  The hospital should NOT try to hide behind a doctor who strives with all his might to care for his patients. 

These answers can come only from the Ministry of Health and the Administrations of each state hospital.  So far, these answers have not been given.


Letter One

Subject: Concerning your urgent appeal for a cancer patient:

In answer to the above, we transmit the message to Dr. Ar. Polyzos (7-8-13), director of our Pathology Department which concerns the 53 year old cancer patient in questions and the medications administered to him.

We are at your disposal for any information you require.

Administrator
Theofani Zervou


Letter Two

Subject: Concerning your appeal to Laiko Hospital about the 53 year old cancer patient who is not insured by EOPYY

The drug in question is made by ROCHE and is unique, there are no generic versions.  For reasons that do not concern the doctors, the pharmacy of our hospital did not have this specific drug.
Since the patient in question is not insured by EOPPY (Greece’s main public health-care provider) their pharmacies cannot provide him with the said medicine.

The administration of our hospital however, borrowed the required drug from another hospital while company making the drug will provide the drug to this particular patient.

The patient will receive his therapy on Friday 9 August 2013

Attending Physician
Professor Aris Polyzos
Director of the A. Pathology Clinic
University of Athens


 Here you can read the original post in Greek, accompanied by the two letters in Greek http://mki-ellinikou.blogspot.gr/2013/08/blog-post_8.html

Friday, August 9, 2013

Urgent Appeal to Laiko Hospital and the Ministry of Health





Helliniko 6 August 2013

PRESS RELEASE
Urgent Appeal to Laiko Hospital and the Ministry of Health

A 53 year old INSURED cancer patient STILL does not have the medication essential to continue his therapy.  We wrote about this issue a few days ago, but unfortunately the situation is not resolved.  Last week we issued an appeal to the Ministry of Health and Laiko hospital regarding this patient.  On Friday 2 Aug 2013, the patient spoke by telephone to those responsible at Laiko hospital.  They promised that the patient would have his medication by mid-day on the same day.  As of Tuesday 6 August the patient still does not have his medication.  The hospital informs him that he may have to wait until Friday 9 August before he can start his therapy.

Can the Laiko Hospital and the Minister of Health please tell us why an INSURED citizen has been put in harm’s way in this manner?  Why is it impossible for him to receive the medication that he needs?

And if the Public Health System reacts to the needs of the insured in this way (this patient is not the only such case) then what about the uninsured?  What kind of assistance are they getting? 

We and the other volunteer community clinics have a clear picture of what’s happening to them because we each treat, daily, dozens of uninsured and desperate patients.  On behalf of the Greek people we ask the Ministry of Health, loud and clear, for an answer.  How will this situation be resolved?

For further information regarding the appeal that we made on behalf of this cancer patient, you can read here:  http://mki-ellinikou.blogspot.gr/2013/08/blog-post.html   in Greek and http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/08/an-insured-cancer-patient-finds-it.html for English.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Insured Cancer Patient finds it impossible to obtain medication from the Greek National Health System







Helliniko, 1 August 2013

PRESS RELEASE
"An Insured Cancer Patient finds it impossible to obtain medication from the Greek National Health System"
It is with deep regret that we announce the desperate situation of a cancer patient who, even though he HAS insurance, is not being covered by the state hospital where he was first treated and diagnosed.  As can be seen from the documentation below (with his name crossed out for obvious reasons) the state hospital is not providing him with his medication.  It is a deadly serious matter and obviously indicative of the tragic state of the Greek Public Health Care System. 

More specifically, a 53 year old cancer patient, with a valid health care booklet (in other words, he is insured) finds it impossible to find life saving medication from the state health system.  As a result, he cannot start the treatment that his doctors have advised him to start on the 2nd of August.  

Citing this case, please call the Ministry of Health and ask them to find an IMMEDIATE solution to the problem of this individual.  While they’re at it, they could answer why patient health is just left to chance. 

Finally, let’s consider the tens of thousands of citizens who are NOT insured.  They face a much worse prospect with no access at all to the National Health System unless of course, they have the ability to pay for services. 

The Ministry of Health must give a solution, because clearly the correct way to reduce the large sums spent on health is not to withhold necessary medication from its patients.






 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Direct Interest from the Commissioner of the Council of Europe on MCCH’s Health Monitoring Efforts





Helliniko 24 July 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Direct Interest from the Commissioner of the Council of Europe on MCCH’s Health Monitoring Efforts 

Direct, substantial and promising was the response that MCCH received from the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr Nils Muižnieks.  He sent this response just one week after the announcement of our initiative to create an "Observatory of Health Issues”.  This is an attempt to monitor and create a comprehensive record of what the uninsured, unemployed and destitute citizens face while trying to access public health services.  Their access to the public health has been severely compromised as the result of the application of austerity policies. 

Commissioner Mr Nils Muižnieks clearly states in his message that focuses on the respect for human rights in our country, and that he looks forward to seeing the information we gather.  The letter from his office is as follows: 

« Dear Sir, dear Madam, 

The Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Nils Muižnieks, thanks you for your communication and instructed me to reply on his behalf. He notes with interest the establishment of an “Observatory on Health Matters” and looks forward to receiving further information from you on the human rights situation in Greece. He will continue to pay careful attention to the human rights situation in your country.

Yours sincerely, 

Françoise Kempf
Adviser
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Conseil de l'Europe/Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg cedex
France»



The collapse of the public health system in Greece through the camera the BBC

Below is the entire video BBC reporting on the dramatic situation of the public health system in Greece. You’ll also hear the outright lies voiced by spokesman of the ministry of health regarding the uninsured citizens in our country.  Our own comments are unnecessary.