- Economic crisis - Greece - health - hospital - recession
Greece: a poor prognosis
Life in Greece has been turned on its head since the debt crisis took hold. Severe austerity measures have left the country's once-proud health system in tatters. Shortages of medicine, the return of malaria and an explosion in HIV infections are prompting calls for humanitarian aid.
Today, one in four Greeks are jobless and one third of the population has no health insurance. In exchange for EU assistance, the government scrapped its system of universal healthcare, meaning access to treatment has never been so far out of reach.
As Greece suffers its sixth year of recession, the oldest hospital in Athens is trying to survive with a budget that has been slashed by half since 2009. For every ten doctors who leave, only one is replaced and those who do stay are on the verge of burnout. During our visit we were told the hospital lacks basic materials such as syringes, tissues and gloves.
At the same time, this hospital is part of an underground movement providing free care to the uninsured. The state, for the moment, is turning a blind eye to this unauthorised activity. In the homeland of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, the Greeks are doing everything possible to live up to the ideals spelled out in his famous oath.