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Greek healthcare system in tatters amid new austerity

posted 29 Oct 2012, 06:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 29 Oct 2012, 06:35 ]


Greece-Healthcare Plight -- Greek healthcare system in tatters amid new austerity

 China Central Television (CCTV) - The universal healthcare system in Greece has essentially collapsed as the government agreed to a new austerity package of budget cuts and tax increases, including a two-billion-euro (2.6 US dollars) cut to the health system.

The Greek government agreed to a 17.5-billion-US-dollar austerity package with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

As part of the deal, salaries and pensions are to be further reduced, and about 10 percent of medical staff will be laid off in public hospitals.

Doctors, nurses and patients all over the country have protested against the measures.

Hospital budgets dropped by 40 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to the Lancet medical journal. Local media also reported that vital operations cannot be carried out because suppliers refuse to provide the necessary medicines and equipment.

The Athens-based Evangelismos HospitalGreece's largest public hospital, saw its budget slashed by nearly 30 percent in 2011.

"We have a shortage at the market right now, specifically antibiotics are in shortage many other drugs in the everyday use. I also hear a lot of children are without vaccines, and that's very important for the public health," said Antzela Mpaladhma, a cardiologist in residency at Evangelismos.

Mpaladhma said she has been working overtime for at least 10 hours per week since last year, due to a shortage of physicians at the hospital. Six physicians in charge and eight residents of the Department of Cardiology have to take turns taking care of over 30 patients.

"We have a fear for our patients and for us: what's going to be in the future, are we going to be paid, are we going to work here or another hospital? We have known we can not do any future plans for us and for our patients," said Mpaladhma.

Doctors and pharmacists in Greece are owed nearly 1.8 billion euros (2.33 billion US dollars) by the Idrima Kinonikon Asfalisseon (IKA), a government body operating the National Health Care System. But they have to deal with an increasing number of patients, especially emergency cases.

"Over the past two years, the emergency cases rose by 25 to 30 percent, whereas our hospital is short of hands," said Kolias, manager of Evangelismos Hospital's newly-opened Emergency Unit.

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