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Greek Islands Travel

Alert over health services on Kos

Alert over health services on Kos.

Falling ill while on a Greek holiday on Kos and other islands could prove a problem this year as medical services suffer in the recent austerity drive. A shortage of medical staff and supplies means that some Greek Islands are struggling to provide health services to locals as well as tourists.

On Kos, the health service situation has been described as "tragic" as protests have poured into the Greek health minister.

Problems focus on the Kos Town hospital, the island ambulance service, the health centre at Antimachia and the shutdown of the microbiological laboratories on the island.

A letter to the health minister warned "For several months we have daily complaints and appeals because of serious problems that have accumulated in the field of health services on the island. We request your immediate intervention in order to provide solutions that improve the plight of the level of health services on the island. It is imperative that immediate relief of 35,000 residents of Kos and Nisyros and hundreds of thousands of visitor"

Kos, of course, is the island of Hippocrates — the father of medicine — but government austerity cutbacks have had a sever impact on island medical services including:

  • The general hospital of Kos has shortages of medical, nursing and support staff, drugs, food and fuel.
  • The Health Centre Antimachia which opened only five years remains closed through lack of staff and equipment.
  • The Ambulance Service of Kos lacks modern ambulances and staff necessary to respond adequately especially over the summer period when the population of the island multiplies five times.
  • The Dolphin Life and Hope health unit,which serves remote islands off Kos, has been axed for lack of funding.
  • The island microbiological laboratories have closed along with radiological laboratories so islanders must travel to Kalymnos and Rhodes for blood tests.

Kos islanders blame underfunding of the public health system as well as bureaucracy and indifference of government officials. They say pharmacy prices are now so high that sick people are even travelling to Turkey to get cheaper drugs.

The minister was told that Kos the birthplace of Hippocrates, has 35,000 residents and 100,000 hotel beds and makes a significant contribution to the GDP of Greece but still lacks decent health services and that this could put the island's reputation as a top Greek Island holiday destination at risk.

Southeast of Kos Town stands the famous ancient site of Asklepion, dedicated to Kos' native son Hippocrates and founded in 444 BC not long after his death. It is now a major tourist attraction.

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