Health cuts see new-born deaths jump 43% in Greece


EU-mandated spending cuts in the Greek healthcare system has brought the country decades back into time, with the new-born death rate jumping by 43% since the beginning of the crisis, according to Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a liberal MEP from the German FDP party.

The austerity policies, ordered by Greece's Troika of international creditors, have worsened the socio-economic situation in Greece to a level not seen since the Second World War, Chatzimarkakis said.

The new-born death rate rose by 43% since austerity measures were implemented, he underlined.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday (5 March) Chatzimarkakis, who is of Greek descent, said that what the EU allows the Troika to do in Greece goes against fundamental human rights.

"There are a lot of legal studies that tell us that the legal security of human rights, basic civil rights, are not given anymore. Mrs Merkel and Mr Barroso present to us another Greece, and not the real Greece,” the MEP said.

He added that the austerity policy was unlikely to change at the moment because the European People's Party (EPP) was trailing behind the Socialists in the Parliament election polls.

“That possibly explains why austerity has to go on from the perspective of the politicians, but it’s not understandable given the dramatic facts," Chatzimarkakis stated.

Next week in Strasbourg, the Parliament will vote on two reports, regarding the troika policy. One report has looked at the economic issues, and the other one is on the societal aspects.

In an recent report published by one of the leading medical journals, The Lancet, academics from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said that the Greek government was wrong when it claimed that public spending cuts have not damaged health.

Breaking hearts

Alexander Kentikelenis, a sociologist at King's College, added that Greece had cut its health budget to 6% of GDP, meaning that it was now lower than any member state that had joined since 2004.

Since the crisis, the country has cut health programmes for vulnerable groups, for example drug use prevention programmes, which has caused a rise in HIV infections. Furthermore, the cuts have created long waiting lists, huge staff work loads and a rising number of uninsured people.

Greece is now also relying on volunteer doctors from human rights groups to work ad hoc, Kentikelenis said.

Kostas Nikolarakis from the Panhellenic Medical Committee in Greece said that hospitals did not function properly anymore, with the biggest problems seen in the largest Greek cities.

"Europe's heart beats in Brussels. 3,000 kilometres away though, the heart of the Greek citizens is breaking," Nikolarakis said. "We didn't come here to ask for mercy, but to show that this is not just a problem of health, but a humanitarian and social problem and this is how it should be looked at. We want a social Europe for the people."

Chatzimarkakis said that he wanted to take the issue of the Greek healthcare problems to the Ombudsman and the Council of Europe as fundamental rights are no longer protected in a member state of the EU.

  • 10-14 March: Parliament to decide on two reports regarding troika policy in Greece.


European's picture

"Alexander Kentikelenis, a sociologist at King's College, added that Greece had cut its health budget to 6% of GDP, meaning that it was now lower than any member state that had joined since 2004."

Which means that 94% is being spent on something else. This is nothing to do with "austerity", it's all about the way in which the budget is distributed.

Problems in the Greek health sector are due to corruption and its dysfunctionalities. Doctors have consistently opposed all the reforms that need to be made to it, so they can maintain their "envelope" collecting scam and their sideline in selling expensive pharmaceuticals sold by their friends' companies.

Besides, claims such as "health cuts see new-born deaths jump 43% in Greece" have nothing to do with reality.

MV's picture

Considering Euractiv has chosen to quote the '43% rise in newborn deaths' in its headline and lede, shouldn't you also do a little digging to find out where Chatzimarkakis got that number from?

European's picture

Euractiv has gone with that title because it's attention-grabbing. They don't know what the source is and are just quoting what "maverick" and well-known crap-talker Chatzimarkakis is claiming.

It's the onus of those making claims to provide the sources, not for the average reader to scour the internet trying to find reports that might be the source of the news item. Moreover, the source might not actually exist or it might not say what they claim it does. Suspicion is raised in this particular case since no source is given.

I say this all as a resident of Greece. When I last needed to go to hospital in an "emergency" situation (the second of two occasions in my whole lifetime) and asked the guard why we were waiting so long, he explained that elderly people are bored at home on their own so they invent excuses to go to hospital.

What Greece's public hospital system needs more than anything is serious reform so that it can operate properly. It leaks everywhere and legislation pushed by unions to "protect" workers actually makes the situation worse for them, in particular the most "lowly" on the scale, such as nurses.

Peter's picture

Greece has failed to failed to prioritize its budget spending. Greece has not cut the bloated civil service and has high defense spending. Don't blame the EU, IMF and World Bank for crisis in Greece. The Greeks should blame the corruption, fraud and spending priorities.

Peter's picture

Greece is governed by corrupt politicians,this fact has been known since 1780's.
In Greece you can rob the Bank of 130 million dollars for politics,and be declared as a patriot.
This fact has happened in 1995 by the PM of Greece Samaras.Does anyone remembers the black garbage bags that Samaras was paying from the communists (SDSM) in Macedonia for name change?
In 1783 US president John Adams characterized the Greeks as follows;
"corrupted in their morals to such a degree,as to be faithless,perfidious race,destitute of courage...".

klassen's picture

We can thank the troika/American banksters. I can see them now doing the europhileshuffle, yes its a fine day at the ecb.
The trioka should be arrested and investigated. This is the result of trioka plundering and im afraid the ukraine is next.
You dont let people suffer for the bloody euro!
This just isnt the way its supposed to be and it doesnt have to be this way .Theres something very very wrong with europe right now.
The europhiles are the problem, this is thier doing...
Yes greece has its problems, but this goes far and beyond human decency, and all this suffering for the damned euro.

European's picture

I like the way Greek supposed academics link to a WHO site for information about their own country, but they can't find the actual statistics issued by their government, which would be where the WHO takes the data from in the first place.

And, if you click on the link to the WHO site given in the Lancet article, it doesn't actually link to anything, just a generic WHO index page.

So, the question still remains, where does this 43% figure come from?

Moreover, the dates the Lancet article gives are 2008-2010, years in which Greece was living through a "boom" (credit-fuelled) and before the bailout programme started. The article claims "The long-term fall in infant mortality has reversed, rising by 43% between 2008 and 2010".

So, Chatzimarkakis is lying if he says the alleged 43% rise was from the start of the crisis, especially if he is basing his claims on this article (which itself does not give a reliable source for the 43% claim).

Perhaps the troika shouldn't have bailed out Greece at all. It would have been interesting to see what happened to Greek health care spending then.