Bloomberg News

More Greeks Turning to NGOs for Health Care Needs, Group Says

October 26, 2011

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- More Greeks are turning to non- governmental organizations for health care amid increasing unemployment and cuts in wages and pensions, the president of the Greek branch of Doctors of the World said.

“What we are seeing in the last few months is an increase in the number of our Greek patients to about 30 percent in a practice that traditionally has to do with illegal immigrants,” Nikitas Kanakis, the NGO’s Greek president, told reporters in Athens today. “They lack not only medicine and health services, but basic food items.”

Kanakis said that the number of Greeks seeking medical services from Doctors of the World has increased to 30 percent of its total patient number from 6 percent last year. The number has risen as low-income Greeks, hit hardest by the economic crisis, struggle to pay basic fees at state-run hospitals or buy prescription medicine, he said.

Greece’s unemployment rate reached 16.5 percent in July, data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority showed. Successive rounds of tax increases and cuts to wages in exchange for international aid have deepened a recession now in its fourth year. The Greek economy is forecast to contract 5.5 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year, according to the 2012 draft budget.

--Editors: Tim Farrand, Lukanyo Mnyanda

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at

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