Author: M. G.
The economic crisis fucked Greece up and Alexander Kentikelenis, a research associate at Cambridge University, conducted a study to show the effects on the Greek health system of the recently adopted measures of economical austerity. Greek public spending on health is now one of the lowest in the EU, the public hospital budget was reduced by a quarter between 2009 and 2011 and in fact we'll probably see an escalation of human crisis in the country during the near future.
To give an example, HIV in injecting drug users is now rising from just 15 cases in 2009 to 484 in 2012 and one of the most probable reasons is that the funding for the street work, fundamental to prevent HIV infection within drug users, was cut by one third, even when a rise in the use of heroin use had already been documented.
Another issue is the actual access for Greeks to the health system, given an unemployment rate of 28%. "Certain vulnerable groups have to deal with an increasing need ... Cancer patients for example - one of the most affected by the crisis - report serious problems regarding waiting times and access to appropriate medicines."
The response of the Greek government to the current situation isn't yet very effective, especially because of the difficulty in finding agreement, the inaccuracy of cuts and the widespread corruption: the Health Ministers already changed four times during the last year and Adonis Georgiadis, Health Minister right now, allowed the re-introduction of a law that forces testing for infectious diseases in drug users, prostitutes and immigrants, under the supervision of the police. This sort of measures aren't what Greece really needs, however it's positive that the government is asking for the support of the World Health Organization, who are going to implement reforms and new intervention schemes to help people on the ground as well as establishing an effective monitoring system.
A rise in suicide rates, infant deaths and shortage of important medicines are just some other examples of what the Greek population is facing at the moment and what's worse is that this period of austerity is supposed to last for a long time. But for how much longer will Greece be able to cope with it? Is this a scenario that other European countries should expect for themselves? Nobody know what's going to happen, the main feature of a period of crisis is uncertainty. What's positive is that nothing lasts forever and crises and revolutions are meant to bring improvements: eventually it will be up to people to define how and when this is going to happen.