Study: Austerity hurts Greek public health

Expect this to be used as ammo to attack U.S. budget cuts.

The media release is below.


Study reveals austerity’s harmful impact on health in Greece

Findings are ‘much worse than we imagined,’ researcher says

In one of the most detailed studies of its kind, a team of Greek and U.S. researchers have vividly chronicled the harmful public health impacts of the economic austerity measures imposed on Greece’s population in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Writing in today’s [Thursday, April 18] American Journal of Public Health, the researchers cite data showing the economic recession and subsequent austerity policies in Greece have led to a sharp deterioration of health services and health outcomes.

Researchers at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and the University of New Mexico in the United States studied current data on economic and social conditions, utilization of health services, and health outcomes.

They found that key public health indicators declined in tandem with the recession and austerity policies that reduced public services.

For example, between 2007 and 2009, suicide and homicide mortality rates among men increased by 22.7 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively. Mental disorders, substance abuse, and infectious diseases showed worsening trends.

Despite deteriorating health conditions, cutbacks occurred in government financing of public services, as the Ministry of Health’s total expenditures fell by 23.7 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Meanwhile, due to unemployment and loss of personal income, patients decreased their use of private medical facilities, and utilization of already-stressed public inpatient and primary care services rose by 6.2 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively, over a two-year period.

Dr. Elias Kondilis, lead author of the study and a researcher at Aristotle University, commented from London, “We were expecting that these austerity policies would negatively affect health services and health outcomes, but the results were much worse than we imagined.”

Based on their findings, the authors criticize austerity policies that are likely to cause deteriorating health conditions in other European countries and in the United States.

The U.S.-based researcher on the team, Dr. Howard Waitzkin, distinguished professor emeritus of sociology and medicine at the University of New Mexico, said: “The policies of cutbacks currently proposed in the United States for Medicare and Social Security will lead to similar devastating effects on health services and outcomes. Instead of austerity policies, we need increased public sector spending to stimulate our failing economy and to protect the health of our people.”

In contrast to the Greek experience, the authors point to several Latin American countries that have resisted demands to reduce public investments in health services. Such policies, they argue, have led to improved economic and health indicators.


10 thoughts on “Study: Austerity hurts Greek public health”

  1. I agree with your first line, but I think that irresponsible management unable to cope with poor economic conditions is the more appropriate cause, and the increased depression and crime would also be a symptom.

  2. I don’t see anything here actually related to health outcomes, other than an increase in “infectious disease”. Barring an epidemic, which they don’t have, that could be head colds, which nobody measures anyhow. Maybe more syphilis? Maybe. But that only gets measured when — guess what — people go to a health care provider.

    They *are* getting health care.

    What I *do* see is medical care providers complaining about not getting the usual wads of cash they’re used to. Hence complaints about ‘decreased use of private medical facilities’ and an increase in public health care without an increase in public health care funding.

    Sorry, folks, there ain’t no sudden excess of sick people languishing in misery. This is all about the money.

  3. I’ve come to expect EVERYTHING to be used as ammo against my Liberties. Why some people hate Liberty so, I know not. Though I think Big Al had a fairly good handle on the issue:

    “One strength of the communist system of the East is that it has some of the character of a religion and inspires the emotions of a religion.”
    –Albert Einstein

  4. It’s bad.

    The problem is that when it comes to economics, the left has stuck its head where the sun doesn’t shine.

    Take the UK because its the one country for which I have accurate figures.

    Official debt 1.2 trillion (GBP)

    That’s just the borrowing via the bond market.

    There is another 0.4 trillion in off balance sheet debts. Something called PFI. Not in the official figures.

    Then there are pensions. The state runs pension schemes. All are unfunded. No assets.

    Total liabilities , 5,300 bn on top.

    There are other debts.

    Total debts, 7 trillion.

    Taxes 0.55 trillion

    Spending 0.7 trillion.

    They can’t pay. So it is going to be an economic collapse.

  5. What happened to the fabled Greek diet that made people live beyond 100 years? It didn’t include austerity?

  6. “Instead of austerity policies, we need increased public sector spending to stimulate our failing economy and to protect the health of our people.”

    More appeals from authority, where the “authority” is doctors, and the subject is economics. I guess you can’t lose your medical license for economics malpractice.

  7. Heh. If people are managing their own health care and needs instead of getting them through government programs, then they will still meet their needs even when the government is in austerity mode. Something wrong with that idea?

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