‘End the devastating austerity drive against Greece’: U.S. doctors group

Troika-imposed policies causing widespread suffering and death, physicians say

August 12, 2015

Physicians for a National Health Program, (312) 782-6006,

The following statement was released today by Physicians for a National Health Program.

The 19,000 members of Physicians for a National Health Program call upon the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – the so-called troika – to cease imposing harsh austerity policies on the Greek people that have gravely damaged the Greek health care system and have caused unnecessary death and suffering.

Our Greek colleagues in medicine and public health have documented a tragic deterioration in the quality and availability of care.

In the past, Greece’s national health system provided universal access to care. Now, millions of people are unable to obtain the services they need. The barriers to care in Greece increasingly resemble the barriers our patients face in the United States, where tens of millions remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act.

Today in Greece, vital health institutions are being starved of resources or privatized, and despite the heroic efforts of many Greek physicians and nurses, care is increasingly reserved for the wealthy few.

A convincing body of research, including some by our own members, has demonstrated the ill effects of these policies. Even before the latest round of austerity imposed by the Eurozone, a study in the American Journal of Public Health found that key public health indicators deteriorated as austerity policies reduced public services:

  • Suicides and homicides increased.
  • Rates of mental disorders, substance abuse, and infectious diseases rose.
  • Despite deteriorating health conditions, austerity policies forced cutbacks in public health services.
  • Already overstretched public inpatient and primary care services were inundated with additional patients who were unable to afford private facilities because of unemployment and income loss.

Other important research also has found devastating health effects of austerity policies in Greece and elsewhere, leading to the conclusion that “Austerity Kills.”

Although the economic justifications for austerity policies are weak, the devastating health effects of these policies are well documented.

The troika’s continued pursuit of policies that inflict mass punishment on the people of Greece cannot be justified.