With Greek health facilities struggling in the face of repeated budget cuts as part of austerity demanded by international lenders in return for bailouts, and getting help from Diaspora foundations, the World Health Organization has opened an office in the country.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab were present for the official ceremony.
A year ago, during a meeting of the WHO European Region governing body in Budapest, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that, “people need a global understanding that protecting human dignity and health is not a privilege or a luxury,” without referring to cuts for hospitals his Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition has imposed, leaving some facilities without even toilet paper.
At the time, he met the Ghebreyesus and Jakab and invited them to Greece to officially launch the WHO Country Office and discuss future collaboration without saying what the group’s role would be.
“The establishment of the WHO Country Office in Greece strengthens significantly the country’s efforts towards universal health coverage and a sustainable and effective health system. This did not happen by chance – it is the result of a whole-of-government strong political commitment to upgrade our country’s cooperation with WHO,” Greek Health Minister Andreas Xanthos said.
His ministry will work with the WHO office on national health priorities. I am delighted to be here to open this new country office, and to work with all our partners in Greece to ensure that everyone here gets the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship,” Ghebreyesus said.