Making solidarity contagious

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making solidarity contagious coordination committee of social solidarity clinics & pharmacies of Attica

[...] Social solidarity clinics and pharmacies are autonomous, independent, self-organized and selfmanaged collectives of people who voluntarily and completely for free provide primary medical and pharmaceutical care to the people deprived from social/medical security coverage (uninsured), in need and/or unemployed, Greeks and immigrants, without discrimination, regardless of religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender and age [...] from the Charta of the Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies, November 2013

The first social solidarity clinic (Rethimnon, Crete), was created with the aim of providing health services to immigrants/refugees. In 2011, networks of doctors were also organized in few areas and begun treating patients that had lost their social/ medical insurance and as a result the access to the national healthcare system. To counter the phenomenon of mass exclusion from the public health care system that grew rapidly from 2012 onwards, doctors, nursing staff and other volunteers created social clinics and pharmacies. Whereas only 3 social solidarity clinics existed in September 2012 (Athens, Thessaloniki, Rethimnon, Crete) today there are around 40 functioning all over Greece. The last restructuring (and partial privatization) of public health care services brought a steep rise in patients’ contribution for medicines and hospital

treatment, and forced the solidarity clinics to treat cases of people with social / medical insurance unable to afford the cost of their medical treatment. The development of health solidarity movement indicates the willingness of people to build structures of solidarity, to help Greek society to cope with the devastating and dangerous consequences of austerity and the liquidation of the public welfare system, by providing primary health care services and medicine. What more, solidarity clinics and pharmacies expose malpractices, protest and demand limitless access to national health care system for all. Furthermore, a lot of effort is made to mobilize people visiting the clinics from being passive citizens to becoming active members of the solidarity movement.

Social Solidarity Clinics’ demonstration for the rights of uninsured cancer patients at Agios Savvas Hospital (January 2014)

Solidarity Clinic of Piraeus

Social Solidarity Clinic & Pharmacy of Athens

Social Solidarity Clinic of Chalandri

Metropolitan Community clinic at Helliniko

For the last five years severe austerity policies have been imposed on Greece. 27% of the population is unemployed, 2.5 million of Greeks are uninsured and 25.000 (official figures) are homeless. The public health system in Greece has now collapsed; it has suffered enormous budget cuts, layoffs of the doctors and personnel. Those who are in the need for the public health care system are in fact those who have no or limited access to it. But when injustice constitutes the regime, resistance becomes a duty. Throughout the years of austerity over 1.000 volunteers: doctors, pharmacists and the support team, organized a living example of how primary health care should be, creating Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies spread all over Attika. The clinics demonstrate Solidarity in action, most of the volunteers are also unemployed, deprived of state medical insurance (the uninsured), people who used to be patients of the solidarity clinic. The clinics treat each and every person in need, offering medicine, psychological support, advice on every aspect needed and even dental care, something that in Greece of austerity has become a privilege. What more they are fighting against the austerity measures, protest outside the public hospitals and the Ministry of Health with a single aim: to cease to exist, to be no longer needed, to have the state provide each and every one with the access to the fully operational national healthcare system. The Solidarity clinics and pharmacies of Attika have created a Coordination Committee which meets biweekly and provides a common ground for clinics to decide on the major issues Clinic of Social Solidarity of Peristeri through an assembly.

Although Greeks as a nation, have suffered throughout these years, the Solidarity Clinics of Attika, along with the Solidarity Clinics all over Greece, have managed to mobilize people to help those in need through their missions, such as medicine provision to the Gaza strip and to Kobane, as well as primary health care and medicine provision to the refugees on Greek islands and in the refugee centres in Athens. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and a support team all of them volunteers, during their vacation time, went to the Greek islands to provide health care and medicine to the refugees. More than that, they managed to “vaccinate� the surroundings with solidarity, creating an open assembly with the participation of the local people of the island, activating the authorities to provide the refugees with toilets. Moreover, they helped creating a solidarity clinic on the island of Chios, which now operates with the help of local volunteers.

Volunteers from the Solidarity Clinic of Piraeus, the Clinic of Social Solidarity of Peristeri and the Pharmacy of Solidarity at Patissia operating on the island of Chios (August 2015).

Mission to Gaza strip (September 2014)

Mission to Kobane (February 2015)

As with the rest of the solidarity movement, the social clinics provide moneyless services and everyone works on a strict voluntary basis. Similarly, the medicines come from the donations of ordinary people that have spare medicines and/or donate new ones. Many other solidarity structures, e.g. food structures, or the “without middlemen” initiatives, collect medicines that they hand in to their local solidarity clinic. This campaign of medicine collection has become so successful that in quite a few cases the solidarity pharmacies have provided medicines to public hospitals facing shortages. In a similar manner, that is through appeals to the general public, and the solidarity movement in Greece and abroad, the solidarity health centers have managed to find donated premises for their clinics and to equip and furnish them with equipment such as cardiographs, dentist’s chairs, etc. Where this was not possible, the solidarity clinics pressured the local town council to provide them with the unused premises it owns and in some cases they have been forced to rent space. While the movement tries to avoid the use of money, there is a need to cover utility bills and medical products for everyday use and for this reason solidarity funds have been created next to the social clinics to collect donations in money and utilize them for the clinics’ needs. What should be underlined is the invaluable international financial and moral solidarity that many health solidarity structures receive from solidarity initiatives, trade unions and individuals outside Greece.

The first meeting of the representatives of Social Clinics with the view to organize the Coordination Committee of Social Solidarity Clinics of Attika (17/7/2013)

HOW YOU CAN HELP US Spread the word; inform everyone you know on the results of the austerity measures imposed on Greece. Contrast the “lazy Greeks” picture that the media all over the world is presenting to a volunteer solidarity movement created and supported by thousands of people. Get in contact with any member of the Coordination Committee of Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies of Attika. Learn more about the ways people in Greece mobilize and organize themselves in order to confront the results of the austerity measures on the national health system. Organize a solidarity campaign, or, public event in your country. If you need ideas or help, let us know. Donate to the Coordination Committee of Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies of Attika and to Solidarity Clinics all over Greece.

Members theCoordination Coordination Committee Members ofofthe Committee of Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies of of Attika Region of Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies Attika Region Social Solidarity Clinic and Pharmacy of Athens, +30,, The Pharmacy of Solidarity at Patissia, +30, +30 6978.539.803,, fb: Pharmacy of Solidarity at Patissia Solidarity Clinic of Piraeus, +30,, fb: αλληλέγγυο ιατρείο πειραιά Social Solidarity Clinic of Chalandri, +30,, fb: kifa.xalandri Clinic of Social Solidarity of Peristeri, +30,, www.iatreioallperisteriou. Piraeus Social Clinic and Pharmacy, +30,,, fb: Κοινωνικό Ιατρείο Φαρμακείο Πειραιά Social Solidarity Clinic and Pharmacy of N. Smirni, +30,,, fb: Κοινωνικό Ιατρείο-Φαρμακείο Αλληλεγγύης Νέας Σμύρνης Social Clinic of Fili, +30 6972.053.561,, fb: koinonikoiatriofylis Social network of doctors OF Zografou, +30,, Social network of doctors and pharmacies of Ilion, +30 6999.258.207,, Self-managed Social Clinic & Pharmacy of N. Philadelphia, +30,, Social Solidarity Clinic of Kolonos,, Metropolitan Community clinic at Helliniko, +30,,, fb: GreekAusterityHealthCrisis Solidarity for all, +30,,, fb: sol4all

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