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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Put a Stop to Our Inhuman Policies

Press Release
Put a Stop to Our Inhuman Policies

Even the most skeptical now accept that the economic crisis in Greece has seriously hindered the Greek Public Health System.  Quality of service has declined while cost, for the insured has increased month after month.  The uninsured have paid a higher cost – sometimes with their lives, lost due to the callous implementation of policies in the public health sector since 2010.

In the last few months we have seen a flood of circulars from the Greek Ministry of Health hailing tremendous changes in the public health system since the beginning of 2014.  These changes aim to “reform” the system but they raise doubt as to their purpose and even their objective.  Of course there have been some good reforms made as well, but these cannot be implemented because of systematic and criminal underfunding of the Greek public health system.

We will, as we always do, document and give evidence to the tragic effects of these policies in public health.  Many are deadly and criminal policies, dressed up to seem humanitarian reforms.

More specifically:

  1. Found on the web page of HDIKA (E-Government Social Insurance S.A.) (https://www.e-syntagografisi.gr/e-pre/faces/Login?_afrLoop=591787041964811&Adf-Window-Id=w0&_afrWindowMode=0&_adf.ctrl-state=p8bdtfbzl_3&_afrRedirect=591787151771022)

“We inform you that, in agreement with the government decision no. Y9/oik 53768 (Government Gazette B 1796/1-7-14) that from today 9/7/2014 each prescribing physician must control monthly minimum limits of prescriptions of the active substances of drugs which are not under protection status and it is not permissible to prescribe under a specific minimum percentage.  Also, per the decision of EOPYY (Greek National Organization of Health Service Providers) restrictions have been placed on the (SPC) age at diagnosis and prescribing specific medications, as per notifications.”  

What?? (The quote above comes out “gobbledygook” in both Greek and English)  Could the Ministry of Health please explain what is meant by that?  In other words, a doctor has to choose what to prescribe using the criteria of the age of the patient because EOPYY says so?

  1. The Greek Ministry of Health and EOPYY following minimum limits on prescribing generic medications put a cap on expenses on prescribed medicine, per doctor by specialty and location.  The risks associated with this policy could potentially be disastrous, especially for those with chronic diseases requiring monthly treatment. It’s a policy that can put lives in danger.  See more in the article “Risks from the Prescription Ceiling”  http://www.efsyn.gr/?p=217204 - (in Greek) and the article “Reactions AmeA to the Prescription Ceiling” (http://www.newsbeast.gr/greece/arthro/705713/addraseis-amea-gia-to-plafon-sti-sudagografisi) (in Greek)
3.      Vaccinations against meningitis B has not been approved by the National Committee for Vaccinations despite the medication being approved by the National Organization for Medicines (EOF).  Why? Because the president of this board has not yet been appointed.  The result?  A 50 year old woman in Ioanina has already died.  Read more in the article “The National Committee for Vaccinations Frozen”  http://www.imerisia.gr/article.asp?catid=27201&subid=2&pubid=113308852: (in Greek)
4.      The Greek government is leaving the 400,000 who are insured under OAEE (the public insurance carrier for independent workers, such as free-lance teachers, consultants, writers, visiting home service providers, etc), but who owe money to the insurer without medical coverage if their yearly income was 12,000 euro or more over the last three years.  That cut off is way too low.  In other words, the government reckons that a cancer patient, who owes payments to OAEE should be able to afford hyper-expensive cancer therapy, because his income has averaged 12,00 euro per year.  Read more in the article  “400,000 insured left without medical cover” http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=436332 -(in Greek)
5.      The government has taken a few positive steps, up to a point.  They have allowed uninsured citizens access to primary health care through public health clinics (PEDY), they have access to medication (with the same co-pay as insured patients) and, as far as secondary health care goes, cost-free access to public hospitals.  But even these positive steps are not as positive as they seem.  A huge wall of bureaucracy is the main hurdle.  Public hospitals have fewer people working and the Greek Public Health System is woefully underfunded.  When you take a second look at it nothing has really changed; the insured as well as the uninsured often go without the treatments the need because they cannot pay for their medicines.  The appropriate doctors they need are not to be found in PEDY because 50% of the doctors in the system have been fired.  Patients are also still excluded from the public hospitals, because the hospitals don’t have the funds.  For instance, KAT hospital had to stop surgery altogether.  At Areteo Hospital, which treats 1,000 cancer patients a year, the oncology department has only one employee while they are required by law to have at least three.
The Doctors’ Association of Athens recently announced results of their research, concluding that one in three citizens have no access to either doctors or medication.  Also, many pharmaceutical associations in Greece report that more and more citizens are unable to get the needed medications to continue their therapies.
Read more in the following articles – all in Greek:
“The Odyssey of the uninsured in hospitals”

“Surgery in Suspension at KAT Hospital

“People of Ko in the streets because of shortages in the Hospital of Kos

“Doctors’ Association of Athens ‘One in three patients have limited access to doctors and medications’”

“Pharmaceutical Associations: The Government Impoverishes the Uninsured”

“Availability and Cancer Patients
  1. The Greek National Confederation of the Disabled has recently sent a emphatic letter to the Finance Minister Mr. Gikas Hardouvelis calling his attention to the extremely negative state that the disabled find themselves in due to the policies of the “memoranda”.  These policies affect the disabled and their families as well.  The confederation, in turn, also have economic problems since they must supplement the largest portion of the additional expenses needed. Of particular concern are those who suffer from severe disabilities, (cognitive disabilities such as down syndrome and autism, as well as cerebral palsy etc.) and their families who support them.  Read more in “The Dramatic State for the Disabled
    http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=613684  (in Greek)
  2. There are cancer patients who wait more than 6 months for their therapy – and at very probable risk of dying while waiting.  Read more in the article “Cancer Patients Wait Six Months for Treatment”
  3. While all this is going on, the government suddenly finds sources of funding (both Greek and from Europe) to the tune of 40 million euro to fund various NGO’s, community clinics, municipal pharmacies and other parallel health providers while leaving the Greek public health system to crumble from underfunding .  Read more in our press release “The Social Trojan Horse is Here.  http///…….  This one is translated into English.
All of the above reflect the imminent disintegration of the public health system.  The victims of the peculiar conflict are many and unfortunately, it is not possible to list all of them since the destitute citizens suffer their destiny alone, unrecorded and unheard.  These inhuman measures taken by the governments during the last four years have led to a system where only the very strong can survive.
We, here are once more calling attention to this state of affairs, and will continue to do so wherever and however we can, both within Greece and abroad.  We are documenting these crimes and the data we collect will be used where it will have maximum effect in Greek as well as European courts.  We’ll keep you posted as to progress. 


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