Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 August 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 AUGUST 2015 23 GREECE This far and no further Tsipras promises new red line for austerity measures Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed this week not to implement reform measures beyond those already agreed with Greece's creditors. Speaking on Greek radio, the beleaguered PM warned hardline SYRIZA rebels that he would be forced to call early elections without a parliamentary majority, and proposed an emergency party congress could be held in early September. Tsipras faced a SYRIZA central committee session on Thursday, with many hardliners angry at acceptance of bailout terms more onerous than those voters rejected in the July 5 referendum. Under pressure from the lenders to go beyond the two packages of 'prior actions' already passed by the Greek parliament, Tsipras is faced with having to raise the retirement age and cut back on tax incentives for farmers. "I know well the framework of the deal we signed at the eurozone summit on July 12," Tsipras told Sto Kokkino radio. "We will implement these commitments, irrespective of whether we agree with it or not. Nothing beyond that." In a setback for his efforts to restore more economic stability, the Athens stock exchange is likely to stay closed for at least a week as Fund will participate. At a two-hour meeting on Wednesday, the IMF's board was told that Greece's high debt levels and poor record of implementing reforms disqualify the country from receiving a third IMF bailout, according to a report in the Financial Times. As a result, while the IMF will participate in discussions over the bailout, the fund will not reach a final decision on whether to take part until Greece agrees to new reforms and eurozone countries agree to debt relief. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during an interview with Greek radio station Sto Kokkino on Wednesday. PHOTO: EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU. Greek banks adapt their IT systems to enforce limits on trading. The ECB has given the goahead to reopen the exchange without restrictions for foreign investors, but with limitations for local investors to avoid further capital outflows. Meanwhile, the challenge of piecing together a third bailout deal became harder this week, with doubts emerging whether the International Monetary This raises doubts over whether Athens and the lenders will be able to reach agreement by the proposed 20 August deadline - the date on which Greece is due to repay €3.5 billion to the European Central Bank. Sources: Reuters, Australian Financial Review Hospital of hope crushed under ruins of ill economy Athens’ Elpis Hospital strives against all odds to treat as many patients as possible amidst a grave healthcare crisis MOHAMMED JAMJOOM Today at Athens' Elpis Hospital, as Dr Theo Giannaros makes his rounds, he is relieved to find all the patients in stable condition. Greece's crumbling healthcare system may be on life support, but he won't let his facility fall ill. "Nobody is going to tell us who is going to live and who is going to die," Dr Giannaros, a former military commando and director of the hospital, tells me adamantly. "We are going to treat everybody, regardless of their colour, of their religion, or their financial status." No matter what consequences he may face, Giannaros is committed to doing whatever he can to help as many people as possible. After all, in Greek, the word Elpis means hope. And that's exactly what the mission of Elpis Hospital is: to bring hope to the uninsured, to the unemployed, to people in need. "In Greece we have about one and a half million unemployed people," explains Giannaros. "That means about three and a half million uninsured. They need medical help." He tells me the problem faced by hospitals in Greece is far worse than most realise: that medical budgets have been slashed and medication is hard to obtain; that bureaucracy has become so thick, even the nimble hands of a surgeon would have trouble slicing through it. "We used to say in this hospital that we are not following medical protocols," explains Giannaros, exasperated. "You know why? Because they are not medical protocols. They are financial protocols." Budget cuts, he insists, have brought ruin upon the country's medical infrastructure. "We're a medium-sized hospital, 220 beds," Giannaros tells me. "In 2009, our budget was about €18 million. In 2014, it was about € 6.3million - that is one third of what we got in 2009." The sickly economy, Giannaros assures me, has meant more people are ailing and fewer are being treated than ever before. "Greeks are known for their smile," he says. "Now you see the depressed eyes, the frightened eyes, the sad eyes. That means that our souls A patient at Elpis Hospital. have changed. Depression is our friend now." Indeed, there has been a shocking spike in suicide rates in Greece. A study by Medscape says that in less than two years, there has been a 35 per cent increase in suicides. It has become so bad, that even during a time of shortage, Giannaros cannot use some of the much-needed medical equipment he already has. Outside his office is an ambulance, sitting idle. Dust has gathered on its windshield, leaves have collected under its tyres. Giannaros tells me the situation is ridiculous, but certainly not funny: that because he secured the vehicle from foreign donors without first obtaining the approval of his PHOTO:AL JAZEERA ENGLISH/FADI ELBENNY. superiors, he has not been able to get licence plates issued for the mobile medical unit since. “Nobody is going to tell us who is going to live and who is going to die.” "I dared to bring donations without asking the municipality of Athens," says a frustrated Giannaros about the ambulance that arrived two years ago. His patience has run out. Dr Theo Giannaros. "I'm going to drive it myself," he declares, "even without numbered plates. We're going to use it." I ask him what he thinks will happen to him when he does. "I don't know. Maybe I will go to prison," he replies with a grin. "But I'm going to get free immediately." At a time of great austerity, that fighting spirit has inspired his staff and comforted their patients. While taking me on a tour of the facilities, Giannaros says compassion, creativity and willpower are what matter most. He adds that while many hospitals have closed clinics during the financial crisis, "we created three new clinics after 2012". "This is an example how you PHOTO: MOHAMMED JAMJOOM. can operate a hospital with nothing," he says. "That means with no money, giving exactly the same quality of service, health services to the people as before." Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, is considered the father of modern medicine. It is his vow that doctors still swear by. "May I always act," the Hippocratic Oath states, "so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling." Those traditions are still very much respected and observed by Dr Giannaros and Elpis Hospital. Mohammed Jamjoom is a correspondent with Al Jazeera English. This report was originally published by Al Jazeera on July 17. Helen Skopis contributed to the story.
25 July 2015
8 August 2015