Healthcare System Buckling Under Pressure of Cuts
BMI View : The retrenchment in healthcare expenditure in Greece is seriously affecting citizens' access to medical services and threatens to undermine disease prevention and treatment programmes. The rise in incidences of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, West Nile virus and other communicable diseases clearly indicate that Greece's healthcare system is failing its citizens. The Greek government, while under pressure from the troika of lenders to curtail spending, must prioritise healthcare spending as the threat of an epidemic looms over the country. The cost of indecision on this issue threatens to spiral into a much more serious public health crisis of the sort usually reserved for developing countries.
Greece is facing the possibility of several infectious disease epidemics as its healthcare system struggles to keep afloat amid major budget cuts and reduction in services. The country's hospitals have accrued severe levels of debt through non-payment of suppliers and pharmacies. Moreover, the state health insurer, the National Organisation for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) has also run up staggering debts in medical services and prescriptions to the extent that private clinics and pharmacies are turning away patients insured by the EOPYY or accepting cash payments only. And in an even more worrying sign, major drugmakers such as Merck KGaA, Novo Nordisk and Roche have pulled out products from Greece due to non-payment or unprofitable price ceilings.
The financial crisis and political turmoil in the country has exacerbated demands on the healthcare system, with incidences of depression, suicide, alcoholism and drug use spiralling and communicable diseases on the rise. The IMF, as part of Greece's bailout package, has demanded the country reduce its spending on healthcare from 10% of GDP to 6%. These cuts to spending are directly affecting the containment of infectious diseases and preventative programmes.
|Greek Healthcare Spending Slashed|