Australian medical aid to Greece

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram A West Australian pharmacist and businessman is calling on the Greek Australian community to send medical aid to Greece, to help ease an impending health crisis. Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy at Curtin University of Technology Con Berbatis, wrote to the Consul of Greece in Perth Sophia Choli last week, urging her to take action. “Greece is in a terrible state at the moment, people are begging, people are suiciding because they can’t afford [basic medical care],” Mr Berbatis told Neos Kosmos. In his email he raised the idea of sending medical aid to Greece, to help doctors struggling to provide good quality health care amid crippling budget cuts. “We’d be looking at a continuing program. The first one I’d probably fund myself, maybe $20,000 worth of goods,” Mr Berbatis said. “Once we’ve defined what’s required and what we could afford, I would probably accompany the first parcel of goods over to Greece and make sure they’re handed over to the correct people. “The last thing you want to do is send it to a corrupt organisation over there and it goes to the wrong people, ends up on the black market, and is effectively misused. We don’t want that to happen,” he said. In her response Ms Choli said the Greek government had not launched any sort of plea for the type of assistance suggested by Mr Berbatis, though she conceded the system was struggling. “It is true that most employees of the Greek Public Sector (including health specialists) have been overstretching for a while now, in order to meet the needs of the public with significantly less resources,” she said. “Our goal is to learn to function as a public sector, with those limited resources, by cutting down on non imperative spending and we do aspire that by the end of this adaptation process, we will achieve it,” she said. Ms Choli included in her email a list of non-government organizations with which Mr Berbatis plans to communicate, in order to establish what sort of aid is required. The list includes Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Greek Orthodox Church, and volunteer-run state pharmacies. Mr Berbatis’ concern comes in response to a piece in last week’s Weekend Australian that revealed an impending health crisis in Greece. It quoted Medecins du Monde head doctor Aspasia Michalakis, who operates a clinic at Perama on the outskirts of Athens, comparing the medical crisis in Greece to that of third world countries such as Haiti and Uganda. “Now we have to concentrate in Greece. We have abandoned, more or less, the other world crises. We had the opportunity to go to Libya, but because of the [Greek] crisis we didn’t go,” she said. Olga Kosmopoulou, who runs the infectious diseases unit at the Nikaia General Hospital, said her department was constantly running desperately short of essential supplies. “We have a shortage of many medical materials. It may be cotton wool today or syringes tomorrow, or even toilet paper,” Dr Kosmopoulou said. “We do not have dignity for our patients. We do not have proper care because of [budget] cuts. We do not have enough personnel. We are very tired,” she said. Mr Berbatis was particularly affected by anecdotal evidence that some drug-users are intentionally infecting themselves with HIV to qualify for benefits of $900 a month and faster admission to methadone clinics. “They’re closing down the clinics and making access to treatment very difficult,” Mr Berbatis said. “I would like to be involved in giving them sterile needles and syringes, because what’s happening now is they’re starting to share their needles, and once you share needles, that’s an open gate to infection.” He also emphasized the wider social and economic impacts of providing poor medical care to these people. “They’re in a terrible position because they can’t get access to treatment and they haven’t got the money to pay for the heroin, so they’re just going to be left to a life of crime,” he said. Anyone interested in assisting Mr Berbatis can contact him directly by emailing [email protected]last_img