When people fall ill, they visit a doctor, follow a certain treatment, and if the ailment is heavy and chronic, they review almost everything in their lives, change their lifestyle and nutritional and other habits, and in general their choices change as their life is in danger.
In such cases, one’s priorities change, and the same people when confronted with danger mobilise and prioritise things totally differently. They revise their outlook and review choices that until yesterday seemed stable and unchanged over time.
Even convictions are tested and dogmas that played a role in one’s life are disputed and questioned.
If this is our stance in handling individual issues and health problems, one can comprehend how different our collective choices and decisions when confronted with massive public health threats – such as the current pandemic – must be.
This is all the more true given the clear and specific warning of scientists regarding future crises, such as climate change.
The study on the difference in the number of deaths of intubated COVID-19 patients inside and outside of ICUs, conducted by professors Sotiris Tsiodras and Theodoros Lytras, leaves no room for misinterpretation.
The surge in the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients in Greek hospitals – a rise from 58 percent to 85 percent in certain cases – demonstrates the deficiencies of the National Health System and the great inequalities between the treatment of patients in regional hospitals and those in large urban centres.
The National Health System is clearly ailing. Hospitals have serious deficiencies, both in terms of personnel and infrastructure.
There is a need for far more doctors and healthcare workers in order meet current needs, as they are not enough to offer the requisite quality of treatment to ensure the survival of patients.
Moreover, the paper published by the two professors highlights the long well-known problems of regional hospitals.
Especially in agricultural and poorer regions, hospitals, infrastructure, staff, and the quality of medical services is a far cry from the capabilities and medical care offered by hospital in wealthier, urban areas.
These are symptoms of existing and recorded regional inequalities in our country, which explain the high mortality rate in certain regions and illustrate the problems in their economic growth and their shrinking population.
The message of the two professors is clear and specific. The NHS must be supported and bolstered in terms of doctors and healthcare workers on the one hand and infrastructure on the other.
That requires a change in strategy and initiatives to reduce regional inequalities. One needs funding and forces to confront current and future challenges that are certain to emerge, as all public health organisations and the entire community of doctors and scientists warn.
Conditions make it necessary to bolster the National Health System. This is not an issue of partisan or ideological clashes.
It is now a national issue, because without an adequate health system that can offer trustworthy health services to all citizens nationwide, nothing can go well.
If the NHS is not bolstered, the health of the Greek people will remain in a precarious state, and the opportunity for growth of the Greek economy will be undermined and endangered due to the heightened public health risk.
Given all of the above, it is mandatory for the government to act, and for the opposition to contribute through its forces and institutional role, to ensure to the greatest possible extent the health of the citizens and the country.
There is no more time for deferment and postponements.