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Monday, March 31, 2014

A Resolution by the European Parliament, A Rebuke to Greece and the Troika



Press Release

A Resolution by the European Parliament
A Rebuke to Greece and the Troika

On 11 January 2014, the European Parliament passed resolution 17-0240/2014 with the title “Aspects pertaining to employment and social divisions connected to the role and actions of Troika.”

The resolution is a slap in the face of Greece as well as the Troika.  Among other things, it mentions that the European Parliament has been set aside while the Central European Bank has taken decisions outside its jurisdiction.  This resolution points out obvious mistakes in the proceedings concerning Troika’s role and they also point out that in the programs they planned failed to take social factors into account.  In this way, the vulnerable portions of the population have been hurt while unemployment has steadily climbed to alarming levels.

The results of such a “scheme”, which was based on a faulty financial multiplier, are self-evident in our country.  Poverty has reached the working class and the middle class, while poverty among children is constantly rising.  At the same time, the increase in mortgage defaults and foreclosures of homes steps heavily on human rights.  The whole situation is worsened by the cuts to the lowest salaries and the across-the-board cutbacks in health.  As the resolution points out, the reforms have had a serious impact on the overall quality not to mention plain access to health and social welfare services.  This is especially true in countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal Essentially the right to health has been totally ignored.

Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko was founded because of this denial health services to the most vulnerable in our society.

The European Parliament has gone a step further and is urgently recommending the EU to take immediate action to re-establish the basics of social protection and to take drastic measures towards this goal.  It also has called upon the European Commission, the ECB and the Euro group to review and revise, where necessary, the stern measures that have been implemented - and to accomplish this without delay. 

In addition, the European Parliament insists that they adhere to the legal obligations spelt out in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and that any omission to do this will constitute a violation of fundamental laws/rights of the EU.  It calls on the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union to examine in detail the impact of these measures on human rights and to submit strong recommendations whenever they feel that the Charter has been violated.  They also urge Troika and its relevant member states to stop destructive measures as soon as possible and to establish mechanisms for crisis management.

They go on to ask that the Commission and the Council to look into social imbalances and correct them by paying equal attention that they give to macroeconomic imbalances and to make sure that any adjustments are socially just and do not fail to keep a balance between economic development and employment, and between the implementation of structural reforms and fiscal consolidation. 

Among the recommendations given to the Commission and its member states is a recommendation that spending on health and education should be considered an investment that can lead to recovery. 

Finally, the European Parliament recommends conferring with and giving heed to the needs of the public - to listen to organizations of patients and professionals which are trying to protect vulnerable groups and to give them access to services and medicines.

We earnestly hope that the attention will be given to this resolution of the European Parliament.  After all, every day, we work with the needy and uninsured who turn to us for medicines and health services. 


May the voices in this resolution be heard and resonate clearly. 




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

There is Money!! – But Not for the Uninsured



Press Release

There is Money!! – But Not for the Uninsured



“7.9 billion Euro given as a guarantee to two banks, but 700 million Euro cannot be found for the three million uninsured citizens”

It is impossibly difficult to hide one’s indignation when you hear that there is money to support banks, but finding funds for the lives of citizens is impossible.

At the end of this past December, - according to the Greek Governmental Gazette 3319(27/12 2013) and 3379 (31 /12 /2013) the Greek government has provided cover for bond guarantees amounting to €3,609,600,000 for Alpha Bank and €4,280,000,000 for Eurobank/Ergasias.  That is, the Greek state is guaranteeing a total of €7,9 billion which is added to the national debt of our country.

During the same period, the budget of the Greek Public Health System (ESY) was dramatically reduced.  The results of these severe cut-backs were reported in one of the world’s leading medical journals, “The Lancet”

Here are some of The Lancet’s irrefutable observations:

-                From the 2009 through 2010 one third of programs aimed at preventing and treating and drug abuse were abolished
-                During the same period, syringes and condoms distributed to drug users were decreased by 10% and 24% respectively, with expected results:  the number of new HIV infections in drug users increased from 15 in 2009 to 484 in 2012.  Preliminary data for 2013 indicates that tuberculosis rates have more than doubled from 2012.
-                The drastic reduction in municipal budgets have resulted in the reduction of a number of local initiatives such as programs to spray against mosquitoes which, in combination with other factors, has brought malaria back to mainland Greece for the first time in 40 years.
-                Through a long series of austerity measures, the Greek state’s budget for hospitals has decreased by 26% between 2009 and 2011
-                One of the Troika’s basic goals was to reduce public spending for medications.  The goal was to decrease expenses from 4.37 billion in 2010 to 2.88 billion in 2012 (the target was met) and to 2 billion in 2014.  However, this has come with unforeseen “side-effects”.  Some medications are impossible to obtain because of delays in compensation to private pharmacies (which are the main distributors of medication subsidized by the Greek public health system).  This has created unsustainable debt burdens for the pharmacies.  Additionally, pharmaceutical companies have stopped supplying certain medicines altogether because of unpaid bills and decreased profit margins.
-                In 2011 the cost of a visit to an outpatient clinic in the Greek public health system increased from 3 euros to 5 euros.  The co-pay amount for prescribed medication increased 10% or more, depending on the condition treated.  2014 saw a new fee of one Euro per prescription (regardless of the medication prescribed).
-                Mental health services have been seriously affected since funding from the Greek state has been cut by 20% between 2010 and 2011 and by a further 55% between 2011 and 2012.  Meanwhile, studies show an increase in cases of major depression from 3.3% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2011.  A significant cause for this is often economic hardship.  Additionally, attempted suicides have increased 36% from 2009 to 2011.  Deaths from suicide have increased by 45% in the years 2007 to 2011.  
-                The percentage of children at risk because of poverty rose from 28.2% in 2007 to 30.4% in 2011.  More and more children are malnourished.  The 2012 report of the United Nationals stressed that “the right to health and access to health services is not respected for all children in Greece.”
-                The latest available figures show a 19% increase in the number of under-weight infants between 2008 and 2010.  Researchers from the Greek National School of Public Health have reported a 21% increase in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011 which is attributed to reduced access to pre-natal health services.  Infant mortality increased by 43% between 2008 and 2010.  The increase in deaths indicates reduced access to timely and effective health care, both during pregnancy and after delivery.

The study in The Lancet concludes:
“….the scale and speed of imposed change have constrained the capacity of the public health system to respond to the needs of the population at a time of heightened demand. The foundations for a well functioning health-care system need structures for comprehensive accountability, effective coordination and performance management, and use of the skills of health-care professionals and academics—not denialism.
The people of Greece deserve better.

So, we ask the question – how is it possible for the state to finance banks with billions of euros, but think nothing of making dramatic cuts to the Greek public health system, education system, pensions and wages.  The Greek Minister of Health publicly admitted in parliament (on Friday, 7 March) that the total annual cost to provide access to the Greek Public Health System for the 3 million citizens who are presently outside it is only €700 million.  Why is it that the government can guarantee 7.9 billion for two banks, but can’t find 700 million to save human lives?
How can some “people” impose conditions that not only put lives at risk, but lead to needless deaths on a large scale?  Meanwhile, the ordinary people who have bowed to austerity measures in order to repay the country’s lenders find themselves increasingly cut off from the health system.  The powers-that-be choose to pour additional billions into the banking system which before the crisis had large profits of even more billions.  Doesn’t seem right, does it?

Note: 
The article of the newspaper “The Independent” which reports on the Lancet’s study can be found on our blog under “Foreign Press Reports”



METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another Generous Donation from Greek-Australians

Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos,
a representative of the Greek-Australian organization “Ambassadors of Greece”

Press Release
Another Generous Donation from Greek-Australians


On Saturday 8 March we had the great pleasure to welcome to MCCH Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos,  a representative of the Greek-Australian organization “Ambassadors of Greece”.  He brought, for the second time in seven months, a significant contribution of medications for the clinic.

It is gratifying and important for us to see people respond and become active to help those most vulnerable in this time of crisis – especially when it is done by Greeks from abroad.  The “Ambassadors of Greece” made their first donation in September of 2013, collected in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria thorough eight Greek schools.


Mr. Constantine Papagianopoulos (right) together with the volunteer- board members
of MCCH – Vassiliki  Iliopoulou, George Vichas and Christo Sideris.

This time, the donation came from the “Ambassadors of Greece” working in cooperation with the members of the Cretan Fraternity and the Greek community of Melbourne

Below is part of a letter from our Greek-Australian brothers which came with their generous and supportive donation.

Today, once again, the Greeks of Melbourne are at your side.  The Ambassadors of Greece have informed us of your sacred mission carried out by all the volunteers and doctors at the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko.

With the cooperation of the members of the Cretan Fraternity and the Greek community of Melbourne, we collected 12,890 AUD for the purchase of needed medications

We donate this to you with much love, from far-away Australia and we hope in this way to help the needy patients of your clinic.  We purchased the medications in Greece, and in this way, we are trying to bolster the Greek economy

Our support will continue in the future.  Together and united, Greeks from all over the world, as Ambassadors of Greece, can accomplish a great deal.


The efforts of the “Ambassadors of Greece” demanded a high level of coordination and a tremendous effort at every step.   All of our volunteers and our patients deeply thank our Greek-Australian compatriots who have shown us love in action.




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

“The New Abduction of Europa” – Meeting of Movements in Madrid



Press Release

“The New Abduction of Europa” – Meeting of Movements in Madrid


From the 28th of February through the 2nd of March, representatives from a number of movements from throughout Europe met in Madrid to discuss “The New Abduction of Europa.”  For three days after long discussions of problems, listening to different opinions and considering the specific problems of individual countries, they endeavored to come to conclusions as to how the various communities should face the key social problems that affect us all.

Then groups were formed that tackled problems, such as public health, evictions/foreclosures, public debt, the privatization of public assets and utilities such as water and the environment.  They delved long and hard into all the aspects of the challenges to the democratic institutions of each country.  The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Hellinko was represented by its volunteer and co-founder, Dr. George Vichas, cardiologist.

According to Dr. Vichas, this meeting represents an essential step toward unifying the communities across Europe with a common vision so that they can strive together to create a community that will be able to take the destiny of its peoples into its own hands –a community based on fundamental human rights, on justice, on solidarity and democracy.

We participated in the group that dealt with health, and some of the conclusions were:

Greece stands out by being the most exceptionally shocking case in Europe of inhuman policies applied in the realm of health.  Dr. Vichas’ descriptions galvanized the representatives of other countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland Germany and the United Kingdom who all agreed that the present situation in Greece is especially lethal.  They seemed to agree that in due time, if present policies are pursued, other European communities will follow the same catastrophic path as Greece and that sooner or later, other populations will be decimated.  Their impression of what is happening in Greece, as far as health is concerned, made them very uneasy and determined to strive together to avoid such a fate. 

As far as medical services are concerned, they quickly reached an obvious clear vision: the necessity for:
-                Free access to public health FOR ALL.
-                A relationship of mutual respect between patient and doctor – without the domination of either.  The doctor has to treat the patient as an individual and not as another example of a disease.
-                Medical care should be practiced by avoiding excessive use of medicines wherever possible.  Medical technology must not be allowed to exceed medical knowledge and experience, and without excessive use of medical tests.
-                To practice the philosophy of Hippocratic Medicine

In conclusion:  Health should be a public asset and concerns the whole of society.  So we, the citizens are the ones who manage its proper development.  The representatives of the movements that were present undertook to convey back to their communities the new visions and ideas reached at this meeting – which will, of course, lead to further discussion.  We at MCCH will follow these discussions through social networks.  The main point is that it should be an ongoing, continuous discussion and exchange of information by all those involved social movements in Europe.

Note:  It’s worth mentioning that MCCH is an unfunded organization.  The costs for our participating in this conference were covered by the hosts “Fundacion De Los Comunes” – who we warmly thank.





METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com

Uninsured Cancer Patients Require Dignity and Humanity



Press Release

Uninsured Cancer Patients Require Dignity and Humanity 


We didn’t choose to publish the harrowing experiences of a cancer patient and her family.  But George Komakis wanted to speak out.  He is a man whose only purpose is to provide the person in his life with the care, dignity, humanity she deserves in her final days.  George Komakis is not a stoic example of one facing fate.  Rather he decided to speak out on the problems he and his wife are facing for the sole sake of highlighting the problems that the uninsured face when dealing with cancer.

The 64 year old Mr. Komakis has been unemployed for more than eight years.  He did odd jobs and up until 2011 and was able gain some work days under IKA (the main social security carrier in Greece).  Since then, however, the couple has been uninsured.

In September of 2013, his wife became ill and was soon diagnosed with lung cancer, which quickly metastasized throughout her body.  Mr. Komakis, like every uninsured citizen, was obliged to sign an undertaking to the public hospital in order for his wife to be admitted to the hospital and to receive care.  These undertakings were a promise to pay the full cost of hospitalization and medicines provided for his wife.  If he cannot pay, the debt will be automatically passed to the tax authorities and the money owned added to his tax debt.

Mr. Komakis didn’t hesitate to sign.  His only goal is to see his wife cared for with dignity and humanity in her final days.  He is not working - he’s with her 24 hours a day.  Soon the state will be chasing him to recover the debt.  What then?  “Absolutely nothing,” he says.  “I have nothing, no assets, what will they do?  Throw me in prison?”

This person chose to show the public what the uninsured face.  He asks only that his wife be allowed to die with dignity – and certainly we are entitled to that.

We took this case to the Ministry of Health and asked that they settle the debt and cease hunting down ALL uninsured citizens.  The uninsured suffering from severe diseases can not cover the costs of their illness – much less the long term unemployed.  The state must cease its inhumane and devastating behavior toward individuals who are simply unfortunate and ill.

Mr. Komakis does not have the resources to pay for “what comes next.”  He can barely think of life without his wife of more than 40 years. 

Here is a short video made by one of our volunteers.  In it, Mr. Komakis testifies as to the difficulties they have faced.  It is, of course, in Greek.  Below find an abbreviated translation of what he had to say.





My name is George Komakis.  We are here in hospital because my wife is a cancer sufferer  We discovered this in September when we went to a general practitioner.  She completed three cycles of chemo-therapy and seemed to do well.  Suddenly one morning she awoke with a severe headache.  We came to the hospital and she was admitted on the 3rd (of February).  The cancer had spread.  She could not talk, could not communicate.  There seemed at times to be some improvement – but she is in a very difficult state, as the doctors told me.  The doctors are doing all they can so that she is not in pain.  I have no complaint against them – they are doing all they can.  My problem is that we are uninsured. I have been pressured to sign certain affidavits that we will cover the expense.  It was a difficult negotiation to get her admitted to and keep her in hospital.  It seems to me that every person has a right to care and to be comforted for as long as they can live.  For whatever reasons a person is uninsured, it seems to me that they don’t lose that right.  I was able to have my wife and myself insured for much of my working life.  At this point, we are not insured.  It is shameful that anyone should be left to die in the street simply because they are uninsured for whatever reason.  We have to look and see how we can help cancer patients who are in their last stages .  That’s all I have to say.  I hope I can be understood.  I am trying to help my wife, who is in the last stage of her life.

The hospital asked me to sign a promissory note for the hospitalizations and at some point, they will attach that to my tax obligation.  I signed it – I didn’t even read it. I don’t even care what it says; I was just trying to get my wife admitted to where she could be cared for. I don’t care about anything else


What do I want from the Ministry of Health?  I’d like them to be considerate – if not of all, for at least the cancer patients who cannot fight; to be understanding and sensitive to the agony of these families and help them.  These are short periods of time for a few families and a few people  They might survive days or months, and then they’re gone. That’s the problem. That’s the humane thing to do.  That’s what I ask for.  As every person should whether they insured or uninsured.  That’s it.  I don’t know if people will understand me.  At this point, I’m interested in my wife leaving this life in a humane way - nothing else 




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

  Working Hours
(MONDAY - FRIDAY 10:00 - 20:00)  and (SATURDAY 10:00 - 14:00) 
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950 
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base, 200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece 
Blog 
http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/ Email mkiellinikou@gmail.com