PACE intervient pour défendre le droit à la santé des Grecs

The NGOs Médecins sans frontières, Médecins du monde and Human Rights Watch have drawn the urgent attention of the European institutions since the austerity plans have had direct consequences on a health system which was regarded by the OECD, until 2010, as “globally satisfactory”. To date, figures speak for themselves:

– The state budget dedicated to health shrank by 40% within less than 2 years;

– 30% of Greek citizens do not have access to basic health care anymore;

– The free prenatal medical follow-up is no longer guaranteed: a lump sum of 950 € has to be paid to give birth in normal safety conditions; therefore, 47% of pregnant women are not followed anymore ;

– Simultaneously, one observes a 20% rise in heroin consumption while one third of the accompanying care schemes have been suppressed due to the budgetary reductions;

– Prostitution has increased tremendously;

– The number of persons infected by AIDS increased by 54% since 2010; at mid-June 2012, the head of Médecins sans frontières (MSF) in Athens, Reveka Papadopoulou, even stated that last year, the number of HIV/AIDS-bearers in the centre of the city had leaped by 450% as compared to 2010; according to MSF, this increase is mainly due to the suspension of the syringe exchange programme in the capital; the Greek Centre for Drug Documentation and Surveillance reports that more and more Greeks willingly self-inject the virus in order to receive the monthly 700 € allocation (more than the minimum wage!) given to HIV Positive persons;

– In several schools, for example in Thebes or Heraklion, it was noticed that some children are not properly fed at home; numerous school canteens are closing down;

– three years ago, Greece was the country in Europe with the lowest suicide rate; yet, it seems that the number of self-murders has increased by 50% since 2010;

– the first aid medical centres of Médecins du monde have seen an increase of 30% in frequenting within one year ;

– the situation of ill migrants is dramatic; they are excluded from care and, according to Human Right Watch, « hunted by militants of “The New Dawn” (a neo-nazi party) with the alleged complicity of some police forces ».

Like Pierre Salignon, Director General of Médecins du Monde, who deems that « for the more precarious persons, it is not longer about austerity but about survival! », the Party of the Citizens of Europe (pace) calls the European Commission:

1) to take the measures of urgency necessary to compensate for the weaknesses of the Greek health system;

2) to propose a swift evolution of the European legal and financial framework so as to:

– ensure that each person living in a country of the European Union benefits from fair access to a health coverage, in particular the more vulnerable populations ; this  includes access to prevention, diagnosis and care;

– guarantee access to prevention programmes on infant diseases (measles), as well as access to prevention and treatment of infectious diseases often linked to social exclusion and likely to generate Public Health problems (HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis…) ;

– guarantee access to health care and protection against expulsions for those foreigners who are seriously ill and cannot benefit from the necessary medical treatment in their country of origin; to send them back to a country where they will not receive any appropriate treatment will result in a serious worsening of their health and may even cause death.

Beyond the legitimate emotion raised by the Greek situation, we European Citizens cannot stand, be it for today or for tomorrow, that the Public Health system of a whole country be devastated in the name of budgetary rigour and the Greek people have no longer the means to exert one of their more fundamental rights: the Right to Health!

As the European Treaties do not grant a sufficient health care protection to each European citizen [1], the Party of the Citizens of Europe (pace) solemnly calls the European Commission to propose their revision in order to give effectiveness to the Right to Health for everyone.

In the meantime, the Party of the Citizens of Europe (pace) expects from the Commission that it uses all legal and financial means at its disposal to address this urgency.

Brussels, 6th August, 2012

[1] Article 168, item 7, of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that “Union action shall respect the responsibilities of the Member States for the definition of their health policy and for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care. The responsibilities of the Member States shall include the management of health services and medical care and the allocation of the resources assigned to them. » It is therefore clear that the primary responsibility in the field of Public Health belongs to the member states.

Article 168, item 1, provides that “Union action, which  shall  complement national policies, shall be directed towards improving public health, preventing physical and mental illness and diseases, and obviating sources of danger to physical and mental health. “