Scientists confirm what we already know: that recession-driven austerity measures are not just bad for your wealth, they are also harming your health. It’s not only that your pockets are robbed causing sleepless nights, depression and heart attacks. The austerity cuts that primarily target the health sector boost infectious diseases as medicine and treatment become prohibitively expensive.
British scientists examined the impact of austerity to health issues and thus on the example of Greece and Great Britain.
The after-effects of the financial crisis is driving a wave of suicide, depression and infectious diseases as medicine and treatment become prohibitively expensive across Europe and North America, according to new research by academics.
After examining a decade of studies , Oxford University political economist David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine and an epidemiologist at Stanford University, have concluded austerity is seriously bad for health.
More than 10,000 suicides and up to a million cases of depression have been diagnosed during what they call the “Great Recession” and the austerity that followed it , the pair conclude in a book due to be published this week.
They cite examples in Greece, which has seen the rate of the Aids-causing HIV virus increase by 200pc as the health budget have been cut. The more than 50pc youth unemployment rate has also seen drug abuse on the increase, hastening the spread of the virus.
Greece also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades following budget cuts to mosquito-spraying programmes.
In Britain, the academics claim 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness by the austerity budget, and in the US 5m people no longer have access to healthcare since the recession.
“Politicians need to take into account the serious – and in some cases profound – health consequences of economic choices,” said Mr Stuckler, a senior researcher at Oxford University and co-author The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills.
“The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide,” he said in a statement. “Austerity is having a devastating effect.”
Previous studies by Mr Stuckler published in journals such as The Lancet and the British Medical Journal have linked rising suicide rates in some parts of Europe to austerity measures, and found HIV epidemics to be spreading amid cutbacks in services to vulnerable people.
But he and Mr Basu said negative public health effects are not inevitable, even during the worst economic disasters. (full story Telegraph)
Greeks get really sick
Also Greek scientists have collected data on the impact of the austerity cuts on the people’s health. According to Christodoulos Stefanadis, cardiology professor at the University of Athens with experience at the country’s public hospitals:
Cardiovascular incidents increased by 20% in the last two years.
Increased is also the number of patients with high blood pressure.
One in six patients with cholesterol does not follow the prescribed treatment due to financial inability to come up with the self-participation percentage on prescribed medicine.
Unemployment, stress at work and depression are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases equal to risk factors like smoking, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits.