jump to navigation

Greeks putting health in private hands February 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Greeks spent a grand total of more than 4 billion euros on private healthcare last year, not including hospital treatment, confirming that this form of medical care is taking up an increasingly large chunk of the average family budget.

Research carried out by Athens University’s Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation (CHESME) found that Greek families spend just under two-thirds of their healthcare budget on private medical services.

Four in 10 respondents said that they had visited a private doctor last year but only 16 percent of those asked were admitted to a private hospital during the same period.

CHESME said that the majority of those who sought treatment at a private hospital either had private health insurance or were members of a family whose main breadwinner was well educated or had a high level of income.

The same study found that very few Greeks who use private medical facilities attempt to reclaim some of the money they have spent from their social security funds. Of some 7 billion euros spent on healthcare in Greece last year, social security funds returned only 450 million euros to patients.

CHESME found that people from rural areas or with a low level of education were less likely to try to reclaim money from their insurance fund.

Many Greeks who use private healthcare are not aware of their rights with regard to reclaiming some of the money they spend or choose to forgo any attempt because it is perceived as too bureaucratic.

Private healthcare in Greece has been growing steadily over the last three decades but there has been a sharper increase over the last few years. CHESME’s survey suggested that most Greeks who use private doctors do so because they believe the state health system does not provide the same quality of care as the private sector.

State doctors are also seen as overworked and state hospitals overcrowded and unable to meet patients’ needs.

Traffic killing heart victims February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The inability of ambulances to reach hospitals quickly, due to Athens’s traffic problem, is resulting in around 1,000 heart attack fatalities every year, cardiologists told a seminar yesterday.

The improved coordination of the ambulance service, including the use of more motorcycles to weave through traffic jams, could avert these deaths, according to Dimitris Kremastinos, president of the Hellenic Cardiological Society. Six out of 10 fatal heart attack patients die before they reach the hospital, he said.

The National First Aid Center (EKAB) now has 15 motorcycles operating in Athens. In an extended network, motorcyclists would be stationed around Athens and informed of heart attack patients whom they would collect and take to the nearest ambulance or hospital. “It is a simple matter of coordination, we could start saving lives tomorrow” Kremastinos said.

Another 3,000 heart attack fatalities could be avoided every year if smoking bans were imposed in public places, medics said.

Weight woes grow as local cuisine dumped November 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece, Health & Fitness.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

Weight problems among Greek children have spread beyond city limits and hit youngsters in regional areas where the Mediterranean cuisine is gradually being abandoned, according to research made public yesterday.

The survey conducted by the Aristides Daskalopoulos Institute found that one in two children between the ages of 7 and 12 in rural areas are overweight. One in 10 of these children eat takeaway food at least five times a week, which normally includes a souvlaki, while only half include fruit and vegetables in their daily diet.

According to the survey, just 10 percent of children include traditional Mediterranean cuisine in their diet, while the corresponding figure in Spain stands at 46 percent. The survey questioned 1,300 children from all over Greece.

Art helping drug users detox November 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The 18 Ano rehabilitation center holds classes in music, painting, theater and literature > Every bang on the drums, every chord strummed on the guitar is like a call to a new life, free of drug dependence, for many young members of the 18 Ano rehabilitation group.

Members of the 18 Ano rehabilitation group are finding freedom from drugs with the help of art. Former users are piecing their lives back together again, breaking the grip of dependency. Through music, theater, literature and painting, they are healing their wounds and getting closer to beginning their new lives. Gogo, Dimos, Maria and Christina demonstrate that they have the strength to replace their dependence on drugs with the new, creative and liberating habit of art.

“Everything has changed; it was difficult, but there was a lot of will power. In the music group I found joy and pain again. I had got to the stage where I didn’t feel anything, and now that I am singing and writing music, I think that lost feelings are started to stir again,” Gogo, 26, said.

She has been in the 18 Ano social reintegration group for the past five months. Born in Hania, she started playing the Cretan lyra, a string instrument played with a bow, at a very early age. By the time she was 11, she had started taking drugs. Her father was an alcoholic, her brother and uncle were both drug addicts. “It was almost inevitable. My family and friends were users. At some point I felt psychologically exhausted and sought treatment. Now that I’m clean, I feel ready to take up the lyra again, and to work on my expression in the theater group.”

Dimos, 27, has spent 10 months in the rehabilitation program and experienced countless breaths of freedom in the art groups. He is keen on painting. “I feel free. I’m glad that I have managed to feel. When I’m in a good mood, I paint landscapes. When I feel lousy, I paint people.”

He will never forget his first day on the program when the counselor asked him, “Do you talk to Dimos at all?” he was astonished, and answered, “I’m not crazy enough to talk to myself.” Now, however, “I realize that when I don’t talk to myself I’m not well. I used heroin from the age of 13. I had a heart problem; I even had an operation. When I heard my mother say that I had to have more tests, I thought I was dying. It was then that I decided to start taking drugs so I wouldn’t think about anything.”

After five years at 18 Ano, Maria is completing the process of reintegration. She always has a smile on her face and talks with passion about music. “I used to play the harmonium and the flute. Then I gave it up, when I got into drugs. It was a time when I didn’t want to feel intensely. I was scared by strong feelings. When I got into the program’s art groups, I began to find myself again. Music, especially singing, makes me happy and satisfies me. Whatever I feel, I now express it in music.”

It’s never to late to fulfill a dream one missed by taking the wrong path. Christina, 25, decided to start again and to finish the drama school course that she had left halfway through.

“It was the first thing I thought of when I joined the 18 Ano theater group. I used to study at the Diamantopoulou school but I gave it up because of the drugs. I had a lot of family problems, but what won me over was curiosity. I ended up in prison. But now I feel very satisfied because I’ve been clean for 380 days. For the first time in my life. At the moment we’re working on Aeschylus’ ‘Eumenides’ and at every rehearsal I can feel a lot of things from my life coming out. Honestly, without these groups, the attempt to get off drugs would be very difficult and monotonous. But now I’ve gained a lot. I’ve improved my voice and movement; I feel more comfortable with my body. I think I’ll be ready to re-establish my relationship with my family at long last.”

Psychiatrist Katerina Matsa, scientific director of the 18 Ano program, talked about the role of art in rehabilitation. Art, says Matsa, “helps people who have difficulty expressing themselves in words or being creative to find a way to bring to the surface the burden that they have experienced as pain, to get close to others and to share ideas and feelings. Art in all forms is a form of mediation which helps emancipate people and free them from the bonds of substances.”

The 18 Ano art groups have been in regular operation for 10 years, and a study of the group shows that thanks to art, almost 70 percent of the drug users are rehabilitated.

Auditors check Greek hospital bills November 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that auditors have been appointed to keep a check on hospital finances in a move aimed at stamping out illegal spending practises costing the state millions of euros every year.

Avramopoulos said the Ministry has appointed the auditors as the govenment prepares to implement tighter controls over medical supplies. “The message is clear. A lack of transparency and corruption will not be tolerated. Wherever there is a law being broken there will be exemplary punishment and administrative penalties,” said the Minister.

The auditors will complete their checks by the end of the year and hand over their findings to a new government committee overseeing health expenditure. The government plans to submit to Parliament at the start of next year a draft bill that will transfer the monitoring of hospital purse strings to a joint Ministerial Committee.

According to sources, the Finance Ministry has already stepped up checks on hospitals through its Special Investigation Service (SIS) after increasing reports of employees fixing tender deals, in effect awarding contacts to a limited number of suppliers in exchange for a kickback. It is hoped tighter controls will reduce spending in the sector by about half a billion euros, according to Ministry estimates, as part of government plans to tighten fiscal policy.

Separately, the Minister also said that people suffering from a permanent disability will be given a lifelong social security card rather than having to renew it every two years, as required by current regulations.

One in four intensive care beds not used November 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
comments closed

Almost one in four beds in hospital intensive care units are off-limits to patients due to a lack of nursing staff, according to data presented by the Hellenic Association of Intensive Care yesterday.

Some 500 beds in intensive care units at different hospitals across the country are currently in operation with another 150 having been shut down due to staff shortages.

The bed shortage means that 4,500 patients are left without the required intensive care treatment every year with many of them, about 2,000, at risk of losing their lives due to a lack of proper medical help.

Budget cuts are also responsible for the low number of nursing staff attending to each patient in intensive care, resulting in poor quality services being offered and staff suffering from burnout before ultimately resigning, officials added.

Push for more organ donors November 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Organ transplant recipients yesterday called for a concerted campaign to boost public awareness about organ transplants in Greece, which has one of the lowest rate of organ donors in Europe.

Speaking ahead of today’s National Organ Donor Day, citizens who have undergone transplants said more donors were needed to cut long waiting lists. Antonis Gialelakis, the 39-year-old President of the National Transplant Organization, said he was lucky to get his heart transplant within a week of diagnosis in 2002.

Most patients are not so fortunate, waiting an average of six years for a transplant. Some 900 are on a waiting list. But with just eight donors per million of the population, not all of them will get the organs they need.

To make matters worse, there has been a steady drop in the number of transplants conducted in Greece, with just 150 this year as compared to 242 in 2006 and 280 in 2005.

Widespread public ignorance about transplants is a big problem, according to Christos Svarnas, President of the Panhellenic Association of Kidney Transplant Patients. «The public has not really taken in the idea of donating organs,» said Svarnas, 53, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2001. He called for more television commercials at peak viewing times.

A key barrier to organ donation are objections from relatives of brain-dead donors. Nikolaos Voulgarelis, whose son was left with brain damage after a car accident, respected his son’s wishes and committed his organs for donation. He appealed to others to follow his example. «His death was unfair, but because of him someone else lived,» Voulgarelis said.

Information kiosks will be set up in Syntagma Square today with details about organ donation.