TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Greece's health budget cuts have led to increase in malaria, HIV/AIDS

According to Doctors Without Borders, major cuts to the health budget in Greece have led to an increase in malaria and HIV/AIDS among some groups.

Reveka Papadopoulos, Greece's chief of DWB, said that HIV incidence among injected drug users in central Athens rose 1,250 percent during the first 10 months of 2011 when compared with the same period in 2010. Papadopoulos blames the rise on the cancellation or suspension of free needle exchange programs, the Guardian reports.

"We are also seeing transmission between mother and child for the first time in Greece," Papadopoulos said, according to the Guardian. "This is something we are used to seeing in sub-Saharan Africa, not Europe. There has also been a sharp increase in cases of tuberculosis in the immigrant population, cases of Nile fever - leading to 35 deaths in 2010 - and the reappearance of endemic malaria in several parts of Greece."

The cuts to the health services budget has included a 40 percent reduction in funding for hospitals. DWB is trying to respond to the cuts by shifting its support from emergency interventions to areas that address basic public health.

"(Greece's social services are) under very severe strain, if not in a state of breakdown," Papadopoulos said, according to the Guardian. "What we are seeing are very clear indicators of a system that cannot cope."