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New study shows effects of austerity on health in Greece
by Global Burden of Disease 2016 Greece Collaborators
22 August 2018

Researchers from the University of Washington and abroad have just published a study on the effects of the financial crisis in Greece, and more particularly of the consequences on health of the austerity measures imposed by the Troika (EU, ECB and IMF).

The important decrease in health-care expenditure (from 9.8% of GDP in 2008 to 8.1% in 2014) that took place in Greece since 2010 is a main factor in the deterioration of the health conditions of Greek people. The research shows that many other factors, which are all related to the financial crisis and austerity measures imposed during the memoranda, have played an important role as well. These factors are both direct and indirect. On one side, public health spending in Greece has been reduced, both for prevention and treatment, while the EU has increased its spending on health from 2010 onwards (except Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus) though demanding that Greece do exactly the opposite… cut its spending, with dramatic consequences such as a deficit in basic supplies in hospitals and drug shortages. On the other side, among indirect causes of the increase in death and disease rates the study mentions the fact that the health-care system did not adapt to changes resulting from the crisis: increase of unhealthy ways of living, depressions, mental diseases, suicides, etc. A large part of the causes of deaths could be responsive to care according to the authors. This means that the repeated attacks on the health system of Greece during the memoranda resulted in deaths that could have been avoided. Another element is the number of unmet health-care needs that have almost doubled since 2010. More and more people do not have access to health-care services due to long-lasting unemployment (nearly a quarter of the population lost their health insurance) and many do not have the possibility to pay for these services by themselves. This lack of access to health care should have been dealt with by the government, in a period when a big part of the population is in absolute need of it, but instead more and more people were deprived of it. In addition, the global population rapidly changed from 2010 to 2016, as many young people emigrated. The results of that was an ageing of the population, also a result of the financial crisis.

Most importantly, this study shows that austerity measures imposed on Greece have had criminal consequences on the population of the country. In fact, for the period of 2010 to 2016: “Greece was faced with a five times greater rate of annual all-cause mortality increase (…) compared with pre-austerity” and three times greater compared to countries of Western Europe.

Source: The Lancet

Global Burden of Disease 2016 Greece Collaborators

Stefanos Tyrovolas, Nicholas J Kassebaum, Andy Stergachis,
Haftom Niguse Abraha, François Alla, Sofia Androudi, Mate Car,
Vanessa Chrepa, Thomas Fürst, Nancy Fullman, Josep Maria Haro, Simon I Hay, Mihajlo B Jakovljevic, Jost B Jonas, Ibrahim A Khalil, Jacek A Kopec, Helena Manguerra, Ira Martopullo, Ali Mokdad, Lorenzo Monasta, Emma Nichols, Helen Elisabeth Olsen, Salman Rawaf, Robert Reiner, Andre M N Renzaho, Luca Ronfani, Maria Dolores Sanchez-Niño, Benn Sartorius, Monika Sawhney, Dayane Gabriele Alves Silveira, Vasiliki Stathopoulou, Emil Stein Vollset, Konstantinos Stroumpoulis, Roman Topor-Madry, Fotis Topouzis, Miguel Tortajada-Girbés, Miltiadis Tsilimbaris, Nikolaos Tsilimparis, Dimitrios Valsamidis, Job F M van Boven, Francesco S Violante, Andrea Werdecker, Ronny Westerman, Harvey A Whiteford, Charles D A Wolfe, Mustafa Z Younis, Georgios A Kotsakis.