Health effects of financial crisis: omens of a Greek tragedy

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Euro area and EU27 government deficit at 6·0% and 6·4% of GDP respectively. The production index in industry recorded a decline of 8·0% in March 2011 compared with March 2010.
In Greece, representative samples of 12 346 and 15 045 respondents were recruited in 2007 and 2009, respectively, by use of consistent methods, of which a total of 26 489 had complete sociodemographic data (see for more details). We also drew on reports from medical research institutes, health prefectures, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). These reports include epidemiological indicators, data on hospital admissions, and reports on mental health problems and the status of vulnerable groups.
Compared with 2007—ie, before the crisis—2009 saw a significant increase in people reporting that they did not go to a doctor or dentist despite feeling that it was necessary (odds ratio 1·15, 95% CI 1·02–1·30 for doctors' visits; 1·14, 1·01–1·28 for dentists' visits [, ]), after correcting for differences in survey respondents including age, sex, marital status, educational attainment, and urban or rural residence. The main reasons for not seeking medical care did not seem significantly linked to an inability to afford care (0·87, 0·74–1·02), but to long waiting times (1·83, 1·26–2·64), travel distance to care (2·50, 1·35–4·63), waiting to feel better (1·93, 1·26–2·96), and other reasons not captured by the survey (1·54, 1·05–2·27; ). Presentation of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity. Question: dramatic increase in the number of suicides due to the economic crisis and rumors on the operation of networks of usurers and blackmailers. Reference number: 16171. Response to question by Member of Parliament, reference number: 56885.

Katsadoros D, Bekiari E, Karydi K, et al. Suicide help line 1018: characteristics of callers for January-December 2010. 21st Panhellenic Conference of Psychiatry; Athens, Greece; May 5–7, 2011.

Cross-sectional European Union statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), 2007 and 2009 users' database.

Paraskevis D, Hatzakis A. An ongoing HIV outbreak among intravenous drug users in Greece: preliminary summary of surveillance and molecular epidemiology data. EMCDDA Early Warning System, 2011.

Report of the ad hoc expert group of the Greek focal point on the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in 2011.
Overall, the picture of health in Greece is concerning. It reminds us that, in an effort to finance debts, ordinary people are paying the ultimate price: losing access to care and preventive services, facing higher risks of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and in the worst cases losing their lives. Greater attention to health and health-care access is needed to ensure that the Greek crisis does not undermine the ultimate source of the country's wealth—its people.
Eurostat has no responsibility for the results and conclusions of this letter, which are those of the authors. We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.