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BBC: Why Greece Is The Sick Man of Europe

It’s high time that international media start to report about the real hardship Greeks have to deal with each and every day, especially with shortages and cuts in the health care sector. If you consider that due to unemployment several hundred thousand Greeks are without social security the access to health care becomes impossible. Often with fatal impact for those unlucky enough to have no social security and no savings to spend for their treatment. Furthermore, physicians and pharmacists are at odds with the insurance funds for due payments as ask patients to pay in advance the visit to physician or their prescription medicine. Going to doctor has become a luxury for the European Greeks in the year 2011.

In its dramatic report “Why Greece is the sick man of Europe” the BBC mentions cancer cases where treatment and prescription medicine were halted due to unpaid social security and medical contributions.  

Understaffed and under-supplied

These are questions that Europeans are no longer used to hearing about – but in Greece the financial crisis has put the right to state health protection in peril.

It is Greece’s most marginalised who are being hardest hit by the slowdown Brutal budget cuts have slashed hospital budgets by up to 40%, spraining an already understaffed, under-supplied and, in places, corrupt health system.

More importantly, growing economic inequality has more and more low-income and middle class people losing state health care access.

“If a country’s financial fortunes are looking well, then health is a top priority,” says Nikitas Kanakis, a paediatrician and director of Medecins du Monde in Greece. “But when you’re squeezed for survival, you’re bound to pass up on going to the doctor to check on a suspicious mole or cough. “You may even forgo chemotherapy because you simply can’t afford to pay the 2,000-euro price tag on the medicine.”

The medical journal The Lancet recently published a study showing that about 15% of crisis-hit Greeks were less likely to seek help for medical or dental health purposes in 2009 than they were in 2007. That percentage, experts say, has now, more than doubled.

Just over a decade ago, the World Health Organization ranked the Greek healthcare system as the 14th best in overall assessment and 11th – higher than Germany and the UK – in quality service.

Among the measures are government decrees for state insurance funds to keep covering health costs for Greece’s growing number of unemployed for between one and two years after the registered job loss.

As state health facilities continue to close and waiting times at remaining state hospitals increase, more and more destitute Greeks – like Marina Derdevian – are turning to street clinics which, until recently, served only immigrants.


Over a decade ago, The World Health Organisation ranked the Greek health care system as the 14th best in overall assessment and 11th – higher than Germany and the UK – in quality service.

Nowadays state hospitals doctors deal with cheap plastic gloves that get teared apart, with shortages in syringes and gauze…. The situation will worsen as by 1.1.12 even insured patients will face cuts in the prescription medicine they could have per month, per year, per life….

Read BBC Full Article Here

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