ATHENS – Through the generous support of Diaspora, organizations such as The Hellenic Initiative (THI) and individual Greek-Americans abroad, Doctors of the World – Greece have been able to continue and expand their work, offering relief to families that have been harmed by the Greek crisis.
Through this assistance during the last two years many Greek children were provided with pediatric and dental care and with vaccinations.
Specifically, Doctors of the World, with the valuable support of THI, has implemented a dental check program for primary and secondary children and dental care for adults.
The dental care was made available to vulnerable groups of young people and adults through the Open Polyclinic of Athens and Perama, which are run by Doctors of the World, but also through schools in various locations.
The provision of vaccines is of crucial importance and THI provided vaccinations for children who do not have access to the National Health System.
Vaccinations were conducted through the pediatric department of Open Polyclinics in Athens, Perama, Thessaloniki, Patras, and Chania, as well as other various locations between February 2014 and 2015.
The endeavor has also received vital funds from the Jaharis Family Foundation. The Foundation demonstrated that members of the Diaspora appreciate the importance of social solidarity with the people of Greece and do not hesitate to show it in practice.
Specifically, during 2013 and 2014, the Foundation provided important financial support to the Open Polyclinics. As a result of this support, there was an increase in the number of beneficiaries in polyclinics of Athens and Thessaloniki and in Northern Greece through an increase in medical visits by mobile units.
The principal beneficiaries of the Foundation’s aid where families with children who have experienced social marginalization. Doctors of the World directed funding to provide primary medical care and vaccinations for children.
The organization has also acquired a solid network of cooperating pediatricians.
Doctors of the World has aslo received funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for the purpose of creating its first Mobile Eye Unit, which will provide free eye exams in remote locations. The mobile units are self-contained and equipped with modern medical equipment. Their staff performs preventive and diagnostic services for adults and children.
SNF aslo provided funding over the past two years to the Open Polyclinic of Patras.
Doctors of the World has also focused on the elderly. In 2014 medicine was given to 313 elderly people and 1,500 received free medical consultations.
2015 will mark 25 years of continuous service by Doctors of the World, which has been recognized globally as a reliable and effective organization. Hellenes have come to know it as an organization that promotes and supports the principles of solidarity in Greek society.
The organization, originally active in third world countries, mainly in Africa, became active in Greece when crisis began to affect an explosive percentage of the population. Its Greek members turned their attention to the people at home and they continue to stand beside their fellow citizens who have been weakened by the humanitarian crisis.
Greece is in its seventh consecutive year of recession as austerity measures coupled with a drastic reduction of the state budget for social services and benefits have led to a collapse of the health system.
It has been reported, for example, that ii 2013, the total number of uninsured in Greece reached 3,000,000 people, of whom 250,000 are children (See: Greek Crisis Review, “More than 3 million Greeks have no access to public health care system”.)
The impact of the crisis on the social fabric of the country is magnified when taking the huge numbers of unemployed who are without insurance. In July, unemployment stood at 26.4 percent for the general population and 50.7 percent for people under 25 years of age.