Thessaloniki branch of Doctors of the World treats rising number of Greeks

Nongovernmental organization Doctors of the World (Medecins du Monde) is looking forward to reaching out to more uninsured Greeks at the Thessaloniki International Fair, which has ceded a pavilion to the healthcare activists for the third year in a row.

“The expo helps us approach people who have problems and do not know they can reach out to us,” Sofia Garane, head of MDM’s clinic in Thessaloniki, told Kathimerini.

According to MDM data, 65 percent of patients at the Thessaloniki branch are middle-class Greeks who have lost their business or job in the last two years.

Since 2001, when MDM first opened its clinic in the northern port city, the number of people seeking free healthcare from the organization has skyrocketed as a result of the crisis, which has left more than a quarter of the country’s population out of work and locked out of the social security system.

“We used to see between 70 and 100 people a day and all were members of vulnerable social groups, such as migrants,” Garane said. “Today we receive a monthly average of 1,800 patients, most uninsured Greeks.”

In 2011, the organization’s Thessaloniki branch treated 6,790 patients and vaccinated 1,239 children. In 2012, the number of patients rose to 12,723 and vaccinations to 2,180. As the crisis deepened in 2013, it saw 16,504 patients and inoculated 2,507 children.

In order to accommodate this rise, MDM Thessaloniki recently moved to bigger premises on central Ptolemaion Street, which was provided for a favorable rental rate by the city’s Israeli community.