Political Speak: What does Grexit mean for Greek MSers?

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What can be done to help MSers living in Greece over the next few years? #PoliticalSpeak #MSBlog #MSResearch

“Healthcare is expensive and for chronic disease such as MS it is even more so. MS punches well above its weight when it comes to both the direct healthcare costs and indirect societal costs of a disease. This is why my heart goes out to all the MSers living in Greece who must be very anxious about their future. Who is going to pay and look after them when the true impact of austerity hits their healthcare system? The provision of healthcare, even basic healthcare, will be affected regardless of whether or not Greece is in or out (Grexit) of the EU. An Editorial in one of the broadsheets yesterday made it clear that Greece is essentially bankrupt and this will have a major impact on their health as a nation. What can we do to help them? We are going to have to develop new, cheaper and more effective, ways to treat, and manage the consequences of, MS. For the average Greek MSer the days of high cost drugs must surely be limited. Will the use of off-label cheaper drugs challenge the status quo in Greece? If Greece remains in the EU this may have some unforeseen consequences for Europe as a whole. How can we sanction one EU country using of off-label drugs and not others?”


“When socialism breaks down the family becomes the safety net. What can we do to help MSers and their families to help themselves? Self management of MS will need to become the norm. As this Greek tragedy continues to unfold we the European MS Community will need to think creatively and pull together to help our fellow MSers. We need to start planning now. Greek hospitals are dangerously short on supplies, they are running out of basics like food, sheets and essential drugs.”

“The issues that we are highlighting here are a daily reality for MSers living across the developing world. In reality the Greek MS crisis is a global MS crisis.”


Some articles of interest


Mehreen Khan (Athens). Why the state of Greek hospitals tell us the drachma could be coming. Telegraph. Telegraph 21 Jun 2015.

Athens was forced to issue a form of ‘quasi-drachmas’ to suppliers at the height of its cash crisis five years ago. They may be perilously close to doing the same today. Greece is the drug capital of Europe. A short walk around an Athens street reveals the green cross of a pharmacist jutting out from the sides of myriad premises. For every 100,000 Greek inhabitants, there are nearly 98 pharmacists at their disposal, the highest ratio in the EU. By comparison, there are only 21 in the UK and 56 in nearest EU rival Bulgaria. On a per capita basis, Greece has double the number of pharmacists than France and Spain. The ubiquity of high-street pharmacies belies the dangerous truth about the country’s broken health care sector: basic medical supplies are frighteningly close to running dry. In an economy where the butcher’s knife of austerity has been wielded across all areas of the public sector, health care has been gutted more savagely than most……

Kentikelenis et al. Health effects of financial crisis: omens of a Greek tragedy. The Lancet 2011; Volume 378, No. 9801, p1457–1458, 22 October 2011

Greece has been affected more by the financial turmoil beginning in 2007 than any other European country. 15 years of consecutive growth in the Greek economy have reversed. In adults, unemployment has risen from 6·6% in May, 2008, to 16·6% in May, 2011 (youth unemployment rose from 18·6% to 40·1%),1 as debt grew between 2007 and 2010 from 105·4% to 142·8% of gross domestic product (GDP; €239·4 billion to €328·6 billion) compared with the average change in the EU-15 (the 15 countries that were EU members before May 1, 2004) from 66·2% to 85·1% of GDP in this same period (€6·0 trillion to €7·8 trillion).

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

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