As the Greek people face further extreme hardship, health professionals are urging support for a new crowdfunding initiative to provide urgent healthcare.
Professor Damian McCormack from The Children’s Hospital in Dublin urges you to support this appeal.
STAND WITH GREEK PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE.
“I urge all colleagues working in healthcare, in Public Health and all of good conscience to stand with those in Greece whose right to health is being ripped away and to donate and take action to defend the right to healthcare, to ensure that the services, medications, vaccinations and supports so desperately needed are there for those who need them. I urge you to support this international appeal.”
Prof Damian Mc Cormack FRCS Orth
Austerity and Health In Greece.
In the past five years the healthcare and public health systems of Greece have faced almost insurmountable cuts; cuts of 40- 50% and growing, cuts that many of us who work in healthcare hopefully will never ever have to live through.
These cuts are part of the regime of extreme austerity forced on Greece by the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others and they have had the dual impacts of both dramatically escalating the effects of the social determinants of health in Greece whilst at the same time stripping health and social agencies of much of their capacity to respond to these impacts.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission and the World Health Organisation stipulate the meaning of “the right to health” in the following terms;
“The right to health is an inclusive right. We frequently associate the right to health with access to health care and the building of hospitals. This is correct, but the right to health extends further. It includes a wide range of factors that can help us lead a healthy life…
..the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights calls these the “underlying determinants of health”. ..The right to health contains entitlements. These include: The right to a system of health protection providing equality of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the highest attainable level of health; The right to prevention, treatment and control of diseases; Access to essential medicines..”
And yet, despite every United Nations and World Health Organisation declaration on the centrality of health and the stated goals of reducing health inequalities, these declarations have proven meaningless in stemming the significant escalation of an imposed health crisis in Greece resulting in massive escalations in health inequality today.
The provision of basic healthcare, access to essential medicines and public health have not been spared in the austerity being forced on Greece, and the impact of these measures are becoming clearer by the day.
To date, the cuts imposed on the health system in Greece have resulted in reports of up to 40% of Greek GPs having left the country, other health professionals have worked with no pay for extensive periods. The impact on the population in general has been even more stark, basic childhood vaccinations are being missed, shortages exist in almost all areas of basic medical supplies.
The overall suicide rate in Greece has escalated by over 35%, since 2011.
In a situation where youth unemployment is now over 60% the impacts of the social determinants of health are all too clear. Many working people who have lost their employment have also lost their employment related health insurance and are reliant on a network of volunteer clinics and pharmacies, even the rudimentary access to basic drugs they may have once had. While a number of major drug companies have agreed, for the short term to maintain shipments to Greece, this situation may well not last and does not cover many basic supplies.
Capital Controls and the Current Crisis.
The current capital controls in place have hindered the ability of clinics and hospitals to purchase very basic supplies to keep going – even where they have the money, from sheets, surgical supplies, diabetes testing kits, vaccines, basic equipment for pap smears, imaging materials, testing kits, chemotherapy supplies and supplies for the most basic support for child and infant health.
The healthcare and public health needs of Greece ultimately CANNOT be solved through appeals; they require a just and progressive political solution that places at its heart the absolute centrality of health as a human right.
We urge all healthcare and public health organizations to actively advocate for a settlement to the situation in Greece that ensures, protects and reinforces adequate funding for the current health and public health systems. Greek healthcare workers and Greek people neither need, expect nor want charity, but material and moral solidarity through this period is essential on every level to simply allow them to do their jobs with dignity and for those in need to get the basic care that all individuals have a right to expect.
This appeal is to raise funds for basic medicines, vaccines and medical supplies to supply the network of 40 plus community clinics across Greece that provide support to those without health insurance including undocumented migrants.
These clinics are largely staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses and other health professionals and exist on a shoestring filling massive gaps opened up by the economic crisis in Greece.
What can we do ?:
- First of all you can donate. Whatever amount you can afford.
- 100% of the money will be used to buy and deliver critically needed vaccines, medicines and supplies which will be shipped directly to the collective of popular community clinics in Greece. The precise list of needed supplies will evolve, but as an indication, the needs expressed by one clinic alone are listed below.
- Consider twinning your workplace clinic, ward, health unit, hospital or union branch with one of the 40 plus community clinics in Greece, this will allow union branches and individual facilities to establish direct links and better tailor supplies based on the specific needs and specialization of the clinic being supported.
- Consider sending a delegation to deliver supplies and meet, this will vary between clinics dependent upon capacity and upon the materials to be shipped.
- Consider asking your union to make a block donation to the appeal and to promote it across the specific networks available to you. In Britain, we will be working in collaboration with Greece Solidarity Campaign.
- Consider helping to coordinate and fund shipping of supplies or assisting with accessing the bulk purchasing capabilities of hospitals and healthcare institutions. With existing capital controls the direct provision of supplies, while complex, is an essential support, and one for which many larger healthcare organisations are uniquely positioned to assist with.
More information on Delegations to Greece, Solidarity Twinning and Medical Aid for Greece from the Greece Solidarity Campaign .