The Athens Community Polyclinic and Pharmacy (ACP&P) has been in full operation since January 2013 providing free of charge medical assistance and health care to Greek citizens and immigrants lacking health insurance.
The ACP&P was founded as a response to the continuous disintegration of the Greek National Health System following the implementation of the directives introduced by the Troika (European Commission – European Central Bank – IMF). The collapse of social and health services gave rise to this urgent response by Greek volunteers; mostly those affiliated with the left party SYRIZA and the left municipal election initiative in Athens, called “Open City”.
The medical treatment offered by ACP&P is of a wide variety, including minor surgical procedures and dental care, and is provided by volunteers with diverse medical expertise. A Pharmacy Unit is also included.
The ACP&P provides health care to all those unable to afford medical insurance and thus excluded from the National Health System (NHS). It cooperates with a number of volunteers, either freelance medics or NHS workers, in order to fulfil the necessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures required by its patients. Specialties of these volunteers include pathology, neurology, psychiatry, paediatrics, orthopaedics, etc. The assistance of psychologists and social workers is also available. In total, since its establishment it has received and cared for more than 7.000 cases, serving almost 80 patients per day. Out of these, 3.000 were treated by the Dentist Department, 21 underwent minor surgical procedures, and 454 patients were treated by doctors helping the ACP&P at their private clinics. The number of persons who received medication has reached over 2.000.
The Athens Community Polyclinic and Pharmacy is a non-profit organisation. Its operation is based solely on charitable procedures and the work of volunteers, while a major part of its work is sustained by the economic and other support provided by “Solidarity for All” (a SYRIZA division). Therefore, it depends greatly on donations made by the public, in order to acquire the necessary equipment and daily supplies for the maintenance of its departments. The free of charge provision of medication remains, in particular, a major challenge.
What truly motivates the volunteers of the ACP&P to maximize their efforts is the sense of solidarity felt amongst citizens supporting this cause; each donation justifies and strengthens these efforts. Furthermore, the great number of patients, daily, in desperate need of medicine and health support, serves as a constant reminder that the work of the ACP&P is a necessity for the community. Severe cases (cancer patients for instance) have been tested and referred to public hospitals, only to be rejected by the NHS and subsequently cared for thanks to ACP&P. In addition, the care of substance abusers in recovery has been another very important area of intervention.
However, it is increasingly of great concern to all of us at ACP&P, that a growing number of challenging cases is reaching the point of no return. So far, these critical patients have been deprived of necessary medical services and procedures, such as surgical operations, provided only by the NHS. In spite of our protests to the Press and to Parliament against turning down patients in need, so far authorities have turned a deaf ear. In spite of this, we believe the availability of human resources can assuage some of the effects of political and social cruelty and we are dedicated to this mission.