Greek Health System Suffers Amid Growing Economic Crisis

Reuters examines how a worsening economic crisis in Greece is affecting the country’s health system, highlighting a 36 percent decrease in health spending by Greeks this year, according to the National School of Public Health, and an increase of more than 50 percent in new cases of HIV from the first five months of 2010 to the same period this year. The news service also notes a rise in depression and suicide, writing, “Greeks are swallowing 35 percent more antidepressants than they did five years ago, according to the National School of Public Health. The health ministry says suicides are up 40 percent so far this year.”

Reuters cites increases in drug use and prostitution as contributing factors to the rise in HIV incidence, and notes that some people living with HIV have expressed that “clean needles, heroin substitutes and antiretroviral treatments are harder to come by.” The news service adds that “[b]udget cuts have complicated Athens’ relationship with pharmaceutical companies,” and that, while there are currently “no signs that this has disrupted supplies of HIV medicine, … the cuts could have a huge impact on the health system” (Ferris-Rotman/Hirschler, 11/10).