In an open letter ‘to the political leaders and health authorities in Europe,’ representatives of medics and other leading health professionals in the four of the most badly hit EU countries have demanded an urgent review of austerity policies to ‘prevent further deterioration of health and health services.’
The letter, unveiled Tuesday in Lisbon by the President of the Portuguese Medical Association, is signed by the presidents of the medical associations of Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal, and a number of leading figures in the ‘academic and medical communities’ of the four countries.
The doctors point out that ‘formally adopted European policy principles require that all public policies take into account their health impact and that alternative options, minimizing negative health effects, are explored and seriously considered. This is not happening for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.’
People paying for a crisis they didn’t cause
Large sections of the each of the countries’ communities did not contribute to, nor benefit from the circumstances that lead to the financial , economic and social crisis since 2008 and yet are ‘suffering the full burden of its consequences,’ the letter continues.
‘Decisions of critical importance for the economy and for social protection systems of a number of countries have been taken, particularly over the last two years, by the EC, the ECB, the IMF and national governments’ but ‘there is no indication that in such decision making processes due consideration was given to possible alternatives taking into account objective assessments of their health impact.’
Public health services funding cut
‘Public services are been deprived of the funding necessary to perform adequately while community health needs are increasing’ with the result that there is ‘extensive and deep human suffering’ and ‘an increased number of situations that defy our ethics and basic notions of human dignity.’
The signatories have called on government and health authorities to ‘act immediately to minimize the health effects of the crisis’, stop the cuts to the public health systems, and take a positive agenda to ‘mobilize and direct towards the common good the extraordinary potential of intelligence, knowledge and innovation of today’s societies.’
Open Letter In English/Portuguese
See also a new report from NGO Doctors of the World showing how ‘austerity and xenophobia are creating barriers to healthcare in Europe’