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Tuesday, 31. January 2023

IPPNW Germany Press Release

Greek physician awarded prize for medical peace work

Critic of austerity measures in Greek health system receives award

Many Greeks are unable to afford medicine or to visit a doctor due to drastic austerity measures in the health system. Approximately 3 million people have no social security and have to pay for medical treatment out of their own pockets. Dr.Giorgos Vichas, a cardiologist, established a hospital for the poor during the so-called “financial crisis” in Greece in 2011, one of 40 solidarity hospitals in the country, of which there are 12 in Athens. He is an untiring critic of the “deadly austerity policies” of the so-called “three institutions” (formerly known as the “Troika”). He has not only directed his criticism towards the Greek government but also the European public, e.g. in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The catalyst for Dr. Vichas was a patient with heart disease that was undergoing treatment for a second heart attack in the Spring of 2011 but had not visited the clinic for many months. It turned out that he had become unemployed and could no longer afford to pay for his heart medicine. He was suffering from a severe lungoedemata. Dr. Vichas was shocked. On December 15th he founded the solidarity clinic in Helliniko with four other physicians. Since then the hospital offers free medical treatment and medicine for patients who are uninsured, unemployed or needy. The number of volunteers and doctors, dentists, pharmacists and therapists who treat people for free has now reached 200. Staff also offer free psychological support, baby food and basic articles for infants. These hospitals are life-savers for many Athenians. For instance, the solidarity hospital is the only place in Athens that offers cancer patients free chemotherapy, financed by donations. The clinic also distributes medicines to refugees since March 2016.

Fikr Shalltoot will receive the second medical peace work prize for her incredible courage and humanity with which she led the Gaza team of Medical Aid for Palestinians UK during the attacks on Gaza in 2014. The award honours her dedication over many years to seek international media attention for the catastrophic humanitarian effects of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Shalltoot shares second place with Physicians for Human Rights Israel. The physician’s organisation is to be honoured for their unflagging work over thirty years for human rights in Israel and Palestine and for improved health services, as well as for building bridges between the two peoples.

Media contact:
Angelika Wilmen, press officer, IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War/Physicians for Social Responsibility – German affiliate, Körtestr. 10, D-10967 Berlin. Mobile phone: +49-(0)162-2057943, e-mail: wilmen@ippnw.de, www.ippnw.de