Greece analyses effects of health reform

The Greek health authorities, in close collaboration with WHO/Europe and other stakeholders, have been analysing the progress of health reform in Greece and making recommendations for its future direction and improvement.

The process involved a meeting at the Greek Ministry of Health on 17 July 2018 at which representatives from the Ministry, the European Union, associations of health professionals, WHO/Europe and other stakeholders were consulted for their valuable insights. Another important part of the process was describing the impact of the action undertaken to date, highlighting major challenges faced, discussing immediate and potential longer-term results, and providing options and recommendations for future action.

Documentation was prepared that will form part of an evidence base to help the Ministry of Health make informed decisions on health policy and allocation of resources. The whole process of analysing reform and preparing the report has helped strengthen the Ministry’s institutional capacity in collecting and collating information from a number of key areas such primary health care, hospital care and health financing.

Greece has initiated a series of ambitious health reforms in the last years, the most significant of which have been securing health care for the uninsured population and rolling out a community-based primary health care network that is free at the point of access. Almost 100 new primary health units have been were established since December 2017, aiming to cover the whole population in a few years.

Recommendations for the future

The meeting was the first step towards comprehensively monitoring and documenting the progress and effects of recent initiatives. Participants at the meeting discussed implementing recommendations for the future, including introducing integrated care, investing in human resources and strengthening patient inclusion.

The health system in Greece was deeply affected by the financial crisis, which had a direct impact on access to health services, quality of care and financial protection. Moreover, pressure from the financial crisis revealed multiple long-term problems, in areas such as health governance and primary health care provision. Awareness of these underlying problems has made it easier for the government to set accurate priorities for in-depth reforms in provision, governance and financing.

Strengthening capacity for universal coverage

The report and the consultative meeting were carried out under the Strengthening Capacity for Universal Coverage, Phase 2 (SCUC2) action.

The SCUC2 action is carried out with funding from the European Union through a grant agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe. The general objective of the action is to contribute to improving health and health equity in Greece, especially among the most vulnerable in the crisis-stricken population, by helping the Greek authorities move towards universal coverage and strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency and resilience of their health system.