NEWS

Poor health system

Six in 10 Greeks are dissatisfied with the country’s National Health System (ESY), attributing its problems to bad management rather than any lack of funds. Greeks believe that the cost of medical treatment should be borne by the State, and they expect the government to do a better job with the health sector. These are the main findings of a survey undertaken between June and August of about 20,000 people in 23 countries around the world by the International Research Institutes network, represented in Greece by the research company Focus. Generally, 65 percent of respondents in all countries believe their health system is not the best. The greatest dissatisfaction was found in Poland, where 93 percent reject their own health system, followed by Mexico (91 percent) and Argentina (84 percent). In Greece the figure is 59 percent. Most satisfied are the Chinese and the Dutch, 63 percent of whom are satisfied with their system. Management problems One of the greatest problems is the system’s inability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society. In Greece, 77 percent believe this is so – a high percentage in comparison with countries such as Spain (31 percent), the Netherlands (37 percent) and Canada (39 percent). Over 60 percent of the respondents disapprove of the way their governments handle health issues, particularly in Poland, where only 6 percent approve. Approval rates are high in Indonesia (76 percent), China (69 percent) and Spain (63 percent). Greece is in seventh place, with a 39 percent approval rate. In Greece, the survey was carried out in July, just five months after the election of a new government, of which the people have high expectations. Most people do not believe that pouring more money into the system will solve the problem; respondents in 20 of the 23 countries said they agreed that the state should use taxpayers’ money to pay for medical care, and that people should not have to resort to private care. «There is an increasing perception that it is no longer enough to invest only in traditional systems of medical care such as equipment and facilities,» said Valeria Tsami, director of customer services at Focus. «In many countries, the perception of the role of health systems has turned to prevention instead of cure, as well as greater personal responsibility for one’s health by means of better diet and an avoidance of smoking.» Focus is now researching the dietary habits of Greeks, called «Food for Thought,» it is a survey that will be repeated annually. Most feel healthy Seven in 10 respondents in the poll describe their health as good (50 percent) or excellent (19 percent). For Greeks the percentages were 48 and 20 percent respectively. Indonesians were the most positive, with 90 percent describing themselves as in good health, followed by the Irish (85 percent), the Swiss and the Canadians (82 percent each). Nevertheless, only 17 percent of Indonesians say their health is excellent, compared to 34 percent of the Irish. Bottom of the list are Kazakhstan and Russia with just 6 and 4 percent of the population respectively describing their health as excellent and 34 and 51 percent as good. Diet, smoking, stress and exercise were seen as important factors for health by most of the respondents, with very few exceptions. For Greeks, stress is seen by 73 percent of the population as the most important factor, smoking by 71 percent and diet by 69 percent.