Online Program

Economic crisis, restrictive policies, and the population's health and health care: The Greek case

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Elias Kondilis, MD, PhD, Medical School, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Howard Waitzkin, MD, PhD, Department of Sociology and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico, Loves Park, IL
Alexis Benos, MD, PhD, Medical School, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece
The current global capitalist crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, threatens the health of the populations all over the world. Greece, having been severely affected by the crisis, has become an important test of the relationship between socioeconomic determinants and a population's wellbeing in an era of economic contraction. During the years of the crisis (2008-2012), Greece's gross domestic product dropped by 20%, while the number of unemployed tripled and the number of households living in conditions of severe material deprivation increased by 30%. In these conditions of socio-economic hardship, early signs of a health crisis have become apparent: Infant mortality rate increased by 51% between 2008 and 2011; suicide and homicide mortality rates increased by 11.5% and 40.0% respectively between 2007 and 2010; mental disorders, substance abuse, and infectious disease morbidity showed deteriorating trends during 2010 and 2011. At the same time, due to declining income, Greek households sharply increased their demand for services in the public sector (utilization of public primary care services rose by 21.9% between 2010 and 2011). However, the Greek government responded to the crisis through austerity and privatization policies; the Ministry of Health's total expenditures fell by 23.7% between 2009 and 2011, and users' fees and cost-sharing increased substantially. As people elsewhere in Europe, the United States, and other regions confront austerity policies, the Greek paradigm offers evidence of the catastrophic consequence of austerity policies on populations' wellbeing, as well as examples of creative struggles for expanded public services.

Learning Areas:

Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Analyze economic crisis and austerity policies as social determinants of health. Explain the impact of austerity policies on specific health and mental health indicators in Greece. Describe strategies of resistance and construction of alternatives in Greece, as well as their implications for other countries.

Keyword(s): Access and Services, Social Activism

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I edited and will present the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.