There is a Grexit that no one talks about. A Medical Grexit.
Within the cradle of European civilisation, 3 million citizens no longer have access to healthcare. The infant mortality rate in Europe has doubled since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. An unbelievable situation within our modern Europe where one of its pillars is social security and access to healthcare for all.
The Greece of 2016 is experiencing a shortage in medical resources on all levels.
The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at ULB recently travelled to Thessaloniki to carry out a project. Yvon Englert returned, in his own words, “astounded”. The hospitals are worn out, their managers depressed and traumatised. Surgical procedures are often suspended across the whole of Thessaloniki. Due to lack of funds, the town’s blood bank cannot regularly test blood packs for hepatitis or AIDS, and can therefore not supply the hospitals sufficiently. This is just one example amongst many that illustrates an astounding observation: it is becoming impossible to practise medicine in Greece.
According to the Metropolitan Community Clinic of Elliniko and food aid organisation “L’autre être humain”, more than 3 million inhabitants in today’s society are subject to exclusion from healthcare. The budget allocated to the national health system has dropped by 50% since 2009, due to the requirements of international financial institutions. The shortages are structural. Materials, which are often basic, are either unattainable or too expensive. Hospitals are deprived of their subsidies and face colossal debt (tens of millions of euros are owed to creditors). The Metropolitan Community Clinic of Elliniko and food aid organisation refused to accept the European Citizen’s Prize awarded by the European Parliament in 2015, stating that Europe is doing nothing to prevent an “avalanche of deaths”.
If the European Union and its political bodies are not aware of the problem in front of us, and if there is no longer solidarity within our community, where is our European spirit? This is a crisis developing before our eyes that we may not manage to escape.
The health crisis spreading through Greece is endemic:
- 51% increase in infant mortalityin 3 years, 16% increase in low birth-weight, 32% increase in neonatal mortality (2008-2011);
- Reduction in vaccination coverage (leading to school exclusion);
- 37% increase in hospitalisation in public hospitals (2009-2011);
- 50% reduction in budget for healthcare since 2009;
- Installation of ticket system (€25.7,106) for outpatient care in hospitals, which was previously free (2011);
- 25% of Greeks no longer have any health cover ;
Social crisis suggests an unprecedented health crisis:
- Child poverty rates: from 23% to 41% (between 2008 and 2012);
- In four years, increase of 45% in suicide rate
- 2.5 million Greeks live below the poverty line;
- Unemployment rate (March 2015): 25% (no allowance or health care after a maximum of 12 months);
- 28% of Greeks live in overpopulated living conditions;
- 30% say they have no heating during the winter months;
[Source: Doctors of the World]
We have a huge issue in front of us. There is a whole population suffering, who we cannot abandon. Thanks to the values that inspire our community, we have ensured social security and access to healthcare, amongst other things. We must not allow these ideals to collapse, to avoid a situation of two-fold punishment and suffering.
The 5 objectives of the urgencesgrece.eu operation:
- Inform people about the most unprecedented and unbearable health crisis to hit the European Union in 70 years;
- Raise awareness amongst the Belgian population about the collapse of the Greek health system, where almost one in three citizens no longer has any health insurance and therefore no access to even the most basic of healthcare;
- Call for sponsors to boost healthcare budget (back up to the amount before the crisis in 2008) and put pressure on national and European politicians to ensure that every Greek citizen has access to healthcare;
- Gather funds to finance concrete projects rolled out in Greece that bring direct assistance to the population, including face-to-face medical support, equipment, electricity, etc.;
- Create a network of solidarity et de transparency for Greek doctors.
Three concrete projects that need your support
New private hospital for primary and specialist healthcare, psychological support
A chain of solidarity for a medical bus, providing mobile equipment: scanners, basic biological equipment, ECG recording machines, spirometers, etc.
University services from the University of Thessaloniki are circulated throughout several hospitals, including the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the General Hospital of Athens Hippocrates and Papagiorgiou Hospital.