Public Health Program supporting families through pandemic challenges

December 1, 2020

With many families in Athens unable to afford medicine or access health care, The Hellenic Initiative Australia is supporting family’s like Stavroula’s through a 12-month public health project at the Athens Polyclinic.

“Stavroula” (not her real name) came across Doctors of the World (MdM Greece) while they were delivering medicines to patients in Perama and asked if they could help her family.

Stavroula, 60, has been unemployed for a long time and she and her husband and two adult children live with her elderly parents in Perama, on the outskirts of Athens. The household’s sole income is her husband’s monthly €600 disability pension, which he receives due to severe heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Having to take care of her children, who are unemployed, as well as the rest of the family, the pension is not enough to cover their daily needs for food and medicine. Stavroula also needs medication for her heart conditions, including high blood pressure and arrhythmia, bringing their monthly medicine bill alone to more than €50.

The Doctors of the World team arranged for her to visit to their Athens Polyclinic to see the doctors and discuss her situation with the Social Service team.

Due to their financial difficulties, she and her husband had not received their medication systematically for some time, as they could not cover the cost of prescription, nor the cost of transportation to the doctor and pharmacy. This exacerbated their health problems and put them at greater risk.

Through the Athens Polyclinic, Stavroula and her husband now receive their medicines and they are regularly monitored by doctors and social workers. With both in high-risk groups for COVID-19, Doctors of the World have arranged to receive prescriptions and deliver their medication safely to reduce the  risk of exposure.

The family also regularly receives supplementary food aid, through donations to Doctors of the World.

 “It is a great relief that you are helping us, if it were not for this, we would have a very big problem,” she often tells social workers, when visiting the Athens Polyclinic.

The economic crisis, which has intensified due to the pandemic, has brought major financial strain on many families. It has become very common for the elderly parents to be financially supporting their children and their family with their pensions.  Often, a single pension is the only income in a family. 

Recognising the increased difficulties faced by these families, Doctors of the World remain by their side offering medical assistance and psychosocial support.

Since the THI Australia-funded public health program began in June 2020, MdM Greece has conducted 5451 consultations at the Athens Polyclinic, with more than 2000 disadvantaged people receiving medical care and support.