ATHENS — Every private contribution in Greece must be provided by the state with initiatives and conditions to be fully implementable, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday evening at an event to honor the Stavros Niarchos Foundation's (SNF) Global Relief Initiative for the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Held outdoors at the "Sotiria" Thoracic Diseases General Hospital in Athens, Mitsotakis recognized the importance of partnerships on large-scale issues and began and ended his speech with a recognition of "those at the front lines of the pandemic" – doctors, nurses and hospital staff – who contributed to turning Greece into a global model on how to handle the health crisis successfully.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Health with Minister Vassilis Kikilias, while SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos was honorary guest.
The prime minister spoke of the need to reform the National Health System (NHS), especially primary care, and said that initiatives between the state and the private sector as well as advances in technology would allow better services so that only serious cases would end up at hospitals.
"We must find joins between the state, which has proven to be entirely irreplaceable, and the private sector as well as the society of citizens, to get together, join our forces and jointly plan what I believe is the basic target and the greatest challenge of the future in health – the 'day after' for the National Health System," Mitsotakis said.
The premier said that plans to reform the NHS would focus in three directions: infrastructure, human potential (including training), and the digital revolution, especially in medicine. SNF's gift will also help Greece reach the EU average of having 12 intensive care unit (ICU) beds per 100,000 people by the end of this year, especially in view of an expected second wave of the virus in the fall.
SNF's gift of nearly 28 million euros will fund ICU beds and specialized care in hospitals, along with two molecular test units and their reagents, for Athens and Thessaloniki.
Mitsotakis made special reference to the 'unprecedented', as he called it, gift of recognition by SNF of nearly 4,000 medical, nursing and cleaning staff at hospitals for their front-line services, with 7.2 million euros for bonuses distributed after an agreement with the state and the help of the Ministry of Health.
Matching donors with needs
In addition, the prime minister announced that a special platform would be set up to match the needs of the health sector with the interests of donors, tracking their gifts and destination. "This will bridge the needs of every state agency with the donations of the private sector, and the progress of the project will be trackable step by step," he said, "with donors knowing the progress of their gift and the state being able to check whether needs are properly covered."
SNF's gift to Greece includes 15 million euros for construction of new units equipped with 174 state-of-the art ICU beds at 15 state hospitals throughout Greece. The foundation is also building three 'green technology' hospitals (announced before the pandemic outbreak), has provided initiatives to expand or upgrade infrastructure, and will provide training in ICU units to 7,000 professionals over five years. All initiatives amount to over 380 million euros.
"It is widely recognized that the Greek state responded immediately to facing and handling the pandemic to now, aided by the responsible attitude of all Greeks," SNF's co-president Andreas Dracopoulos said, in his remarks.
He warned however of remaining vigilant and being prepared for all eventualities. "We hope that these specific donations help public health be ready to face any emergency, both now and in the future," he added, before providing detailed information about the distribution of aid to hospitals on the mainland and the islands.