The Globe And Mail

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Greek health system in poor condition
The Globe And Mail

Greece’s rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding.

With Greece now in its fifth year of deep recession, trapped under Europe’s biggest public debt burden and dependent on international help to keep paying its bills, the effects are starting to bite deeply into vital services.

“It’s a matter of life and death for us,” said Persefoni Mitta, head of the Cancer Patients’ Association, recounting the dozens of calls she gets a day from Greeks needing pricey, hard-to-find cancer drugs. “Why are they depriving us of life?”

The emergency has grown out of a tangle of unpaid bills, with pharmacists and doctors complaining of being unable to pay suppliers until competing health insurers clear a growing backlog of unfilled state payments. The shortage of paper, which is thrown out after each patient has used it, means corners have to be cut on hygiene.

Si la Grèce recevait autant de péréquation que le Québec, c’est 11 milliards de dollars qui aboutiraient dans les coffres du gouvernement tous les ans.