23 October 2017 Helliniko
Closing Social Pharmacies! What’s going on?
The Greek Pharmaceutical Association (PFS) issued an announcement requesting the Greek Ministry of Health to close the volunteer social pharmacies. They believe that the social pharmacies no longer have a role to play in the present reality, although they do acknowledge the useful and essential role they played during the economic crisis. This obviously raises a lot of questions.
- The PFS reckons the crisis has ended even though a) pensions continue to be cut and a pensioners are continually falling into poverty b) Unemployment continues in the double digits (the official information from ELSTAT is 21.7% for May – more than 1 million unemployed (out of a population of 10 – 11 million) c) More and more workers are at entry level salaries and “salaries” of 200-300€ are not uncommon. d) The number of homeless is ever increasing (a walk even through the prosperous neighborhoods, such as Glyfada gives proof of that statement) e) People are cutting even basic items from their diet (there is a lot of research on this). f) The unpaid debts toward social security funds and the state are continually on the rise. g) The increase of direct and indirect taxes hits the weakest individuals the hardest h) Individuals can’t be secure even in their homes because of increased ease of foreclosure.
- The access of the uninsured patients to medicine was first legalized in August of 2014 requiring the uninsured to pay the same co-pay of the insured (KYA, No. GP/OIK 56432/28.6.14). At the same time, our fellow citizens without resources – those with welfare booklets – could continue to obtain their medication free of charge from Greek public hospitals. Why is this hidden?
In the lastest law 4368/2016 and KYA A3(g)/GP/oik.25132/04.04.2016 the uninsured have access to medicines with the same co-pays as the insured. But for the very needy, the situation has worsened. Now the most needy must obtain their medication from private pharmacies, without any co-pay providing they have extremely small incomes (for example 2,400€ per year per person – the extreme poverty level). Even so, they must pay the difference between retail price and the referred value. The difference between the retail and referred price (not brand name price) is variable. The co-pay rate for individuals paying is rarely the posted rate of 10% or 25% written on the prescription. And of course, that’s without mentioning medicines that are not available by prescription – simple headache remedies, vitamins, etc. So why wait now for to for the social pharmacies to be abolished
- For those with low pensions, does anyone really believe that a patient with a 384€ monthly pension (4,608€ per year – so does not qualify for the 0% co-pay) and a common ailment (lung dysfunction, heart problems, or diabetes) is in the position to cover the extra cost of their medications which varies from medication to medication? And on top of all that, pay for rent, food (if they aren’t eating at a soup kitchen) power and water – in other words very basic needs?
- Does the PFS think that those who have plucked up the courage to seek help from the social pharmacies and clinics are “free-loaders” who like to get medicines that others have donated instead of obtaining them from their neighborhood pharmacy?
There is still a question the support offered by social structures (not just the social pharmacies) during this time of – yes – crisis. There is a wide variety of organizations operating with different principles. Some pharmacies are funded (through ESPA, NGOs etc), some are unfunded, independent, solidarity-based organizations like MCCH which operates only with volunteers and on a strict no money exchange basis. The activities and work of MCCH are recognized by individuals both from Greece and from abroad, and that is the source of our legitimacy. We work with strict rules and constantly monitor our patients. We send them to private pharmacies when they will not be burdened by the expense of their medications. We understand the problems of the pharmacies, but they must follow policy.
You can be sure that those who would close these very necessary organizations of social solidarity will feel blowback from the very same society. And anyway, organizations such as MCCH close by themselves as soon as the necessity of their existence is no more.
So, for all those who truly care about the good of Greek society, let them work to make sure there is no reason for social solidarity organizations to exist. MCCH is battling both inside Greece and in Europe for exactly that. And because of that, social solidarity organization in most European countries, and elsewhere, resolutely support us.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO
(MONDAY – FRIDAY 10:00 – 20:00) and (SATURDAY 10:00 – 14:00)
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base,
(200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality
of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko)
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece