Tsipras: Greek National Health System Needs Reform

ATHENS – The coronavirus pandemic “highlighted the massive shortcomings on a global scale, a European one, and in Greece” of the health sector, after the memorandum years had already “dramatically drained” public health resources, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said at a health conference on Tuesday.

The result was “dramatic indicators” of mortality, the main opposition leader said, speaking to journalists Babis Koutras and Antonis Sroiter, as well as professors Yiannis Kalomenidis, Athina Linou, and Athanassios Tsakris, on the sidelines of “The Health System in the New Era” conference, organized by newspaper “Proto Thema” and the site “ygeiamou”.

Primary care

Tsipras called for a comprehensive health plan to reform public health and cited Syriza’s recently released proposal. He said that the core of the plan revolves around supporting primary health care. The focus on primary care was the party’s proposal for reforming the health system during its rule but was heavily criticized as “Soviet-style” by the main opposition at the time.

“The strategy of supporting primary health care has a logic to it: we invest in prevention and turn away from a hospital-centered system whose basic pivot is therapy, moving on to a system that is decentralized, and whose basic pivot is prevention and health treatment,” Tsipras said. The party’s plan does not include an extreme expenditure rise, but a 3-billion-euro support over three years, to align with the European average. “If I came to you and said, ‘We have to give 3 billion euros for defense expenditures,’ you wouldn’t ask me, ‘Where did you get the funds?’. Why then is this question always asked when it comes to public health?,” he asked.

Snap elections

The main opposition leader also stressed that “if you want a National Health System that is safe, modern, and effective for citizens paying for it, you cannot just focus on balanced budgets,” addressing the statement to the government.

Tsipras also claimed that “the rumors about snap elections come from Maximos Mansion,” where the prime minister’s office is, while the PM himself is refuting them. But, the main opposition leader asserted, “We are in a hurry because one thing concerns me – what we will inherit,” after elections, he said, while “every day critical time and funding go by that could be used to support society.”

Among other issues, Syriza’s party leader also said the government’s foreign policy “was a failure” with Turkey, and said the insurance and pension fund his government passed (known as “the Katrougalos law” after the minister) “is one of the most misunderstood laws” and included a fair distribution of burdens and benefits. Some “small but significant losses” related mostly to the middle class were carried out under the pressure of the troika of lenders, and were corrected after Greece exited the third bailout memorandum.


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