European Conference puts spotlight on Greek health system as it faces the challenges of reform

Copenhagen and Athens, 12 December 2013

Key stakeholders from the Greek and international communities are meeting to discuss how to boost the country’s health sector as part of the Greek health reform. The High-level Conference on the Greek Reforms in the Health Sector: Improving Citizens’ Health will take place in Athens on 12–13 December 2013, and will be attended by high-level officials from the Greek Government and regional authorities, and experts from the public and private sectors, the academic community and civil society. The Conference is organized by the Ministry of Health of Greece in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The Conference signals the start of the implementation of the Health in Action initiative, which was set up in 2012 by the Greek Government to address the impacts of the economic collapse on health.

Greece is one of the countries that have been hardest hit by the financial crisis. This has significantly contributed to the disruption of services provided by public and other institutions to the population, which has had a particular impact on the most vulnerable groups, such as those who are elderly, unemployed, disabled and uninsured.

Nevertheless, the current situation has served as a strong incentive to embark on a substantial and ambitious reform of the health sector. The Ministry of Health has already initiated an evaluation of the access of vulnerable groups to health care and, with the support of the WHO Regional Office and other partners, is now developing a specific tool to monitor the impacts of the financial crisis on health and health systems.

“We should join forces to ensure that Greece has the best policies in place to face the current public health challenges. With its public health expertise, WHO will be at the country’s side to provide the evidence required for appropriate decision-making, and to support the actions being planned for an improved and well-structured health system,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Minister of Health of Greece, Spyridon-Adonis Georgiadis, says: “Our intention is to create a modern and sustainable system based on the key principles of universality, equity, quality, sustainability and health in all policies. We will not be alone in a very long journey as international organizations and other countries support us in reshaping the modern Greek health system.”

The Conference has three main goals:

  • to provide an opportunity for a policy dialogue on health reforms in Greece to take place, the main pillars of which rest on the principles of European Union (EU) solidarity, in the context of WHO/Europe’s health policy framework, Health 2020;
  • to highlight the continuing need for adequate financial resources to improve citizens’ health; and
  • to inform and consult all key stakeholders about the preparatory phase of Health in Action, including the assessment and reform processes, as well as future activities and updates on how the reforms are linked to other reform processes.

The Conference will also be an opportunity to present the health-related priorities that the Greek Government will bring to its six-month EU Presidency, which begins on 1 January 2014.

For further information, contact:

Liuba Negru
Media Relations Officer
WHO Regional Office for Europe
UN City, Marmorvej 51
2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Tel.: +45 45 33 67 89, +45 20 45 92 74 (mobile)