Monday, October 10, 2011

Greeks pay for economic crisis with their health

October 10, 2011

It is 4am on the emergency ward of Evangelismos general hospital - the biggest in Greece - and the stream of patients is relentless. Dr Michalis Samarkos has not stopped working since he started his shift some 14 hours earlier, and he has been besieged by patients unable to afford the tests or the drugs they need.

Many, like the unemployed diabetic man he has just examined, have gone without treatment for several days. "When you see a diabetic unable to afford his insulin you know he is going to die," says Samarkos. "There is no infrastructure to help these people. On every front the system has failed the people it was meant to serve."

Greeks are paying for their economic disaster with their health, according to a new study.

In a letter to the Lancet medical journal, a team lead by Dr Alexander Kentikelenis and Dr David Stuckler from Cambridge University and Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine warns of a potential "Greek tragedy". They point to signs of a dramatic decline in the health of the population and a deterioration of services at hospitals under financial pressure.


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