Today Greek pensioners held a meeting and a protest procession and expressed their dissatisfaction with the status of the healthcare system in the country.
About 200 elderly people, some of whom were resting on canes, ignored the heat and gathered in the square in front of the City Hall in Athens.
"Hospitals are in a deplorable state. There are not enough doctors and nurses and we wait hours for an examination. The state should give money to the National Health Insurance Fund to ensure free treatment and medicines for all," Mr. Kostas told GRReporter.
After they had gathered, pensioners set off to the building of the Ministry of Health. There, they blocked the street traffic, held up posters with their demands and chanted slogans.
Many people were holding the Rizospastis newspaper in their hands, which is the official edition of the Communist Party. Five more enthusiastic participants lined up in front of the Ministry and rhythmically repeated the slogans a "comrade" of theirs "prompted". The majority of people complained that they had to pay the pharmacists for the medicines, as they refused to give them free drugs until the National Health Insurance Fund pays them the medicines they supplied some months ago. However, it does not avail sufficient funds because the state is unable to finance it. Thus, the insured people have to pay the full price of medicines and wait for months to receive some of the money back. The problem is more serious for people with low pensions, as recognized by all.
"I have heart disease. I go to the pharmacy of a friend who sells me half of a box of medicines. This is how I supply myself with the medicines on which I depend. But our rulers do not care about us, although we worked and paid contributions in order to have medicines and treatment when we got older. We are here now and we will not give up until the funds due to the health insurance funds are paid. The problem of medicines especially is a matter of life and death, "said Athanassios Argiris, one of the protesters in the front line.
A delegation involving representatives of several pensioners’ organizations came into the Ministry to meet with the general secretary and present their demands.
While the pensioners were waiting to hear the news their messengers would bring them, at least two of them were about to faint due to the high temperature. The organizers called for an ambulance in order for the people to be given first aid.
A little later, apparently for fear of accidents that could be more serious due to the sweltering heat, the speaker invited the participants in the protest to go home. The organizers promised to inform them of the outcome of the meeting. Similar protests took place in other major and smaller cities such as Thessaloniki, Patra and Veria.
It is worth noting that since the beginning of the month, pharmacies have again begun supplying those insured under the National Health Insurance Fund with medicines, despite the differences in their backgrounds, and especially by the Union of Pharmacists of Attica.