Doctors say thousands of Greek children unvaccinated


Greece is very close to 'tearing down the vaccination barrier', according to the humanitarian group Doctors of the World.

The humanitarian group says thousands of children in Greece have been left unvaccinated because they and their parents have lost their health insurance.

"Uninsured children who are unvaccinated are in imminent danger. Apart from the threat to their own health, they face exclusion from school because there are directives saying unvaccinated children cannot attend school," Nikitas Kanakis, who represents Doctors of the World, told Sto Kokkino radio in an interview.

In Greece, as in other European countries, vaccinations are written down in the health books that belong to each child.

"Inequality is increasing and this shows just how unjust the public health system is. There is silence on the issue of the uninsured. We're very close to tearing down the vaccination barrier in this country," Kanakis added.

This year alone, over 6,000 impoverished children have received vaccinations at voluntary clinics run by his organisation, Kanakis said.

In November, Greece's private healthcare clinics said that they would not accept patients insured by the country's main healthcare facility, the National Organisation for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), because the organisation owes €800 million in private healthcare facilities

Between 2008 and 2011, 17 of the EU’s 28 member states slashed their public spending on healthcare due to austerity policies.

In Greece, before the crisis, most of the patients at Doctors of the World's clinics were migrants. But during the last year, almost half of the patients have been Greek citizens, the humanitarian group said. Many of them can no longer afford healthcare services.

The eurozone debt crisis has forced some governments to drastically cut their public health budgets in an effort to contain deficits.

Greece was among the countries taking the toughest measures, but Spain and other countries such as France and the Czech Republic have also taken similar steps.

>> Read our LinksDossier: Austerity: Healthcare in hardship

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