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The human cost of Greece’s ‘rescue’

The Lancet is not a place one normally turns to for some economic truths, but it’s done a good job in revealing just how much human suffering there has been as a result of its return to economic ‘normality’.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Greece has dropped by some 30% since the Great Financial Crash of 2008. Much of this was due to the fact that Greece was unable to devalue its currency, the euro – such devaluations are normal when a country’s economy hits skid row. But countries that are strapped to the euro don’t enjoy that liberty of action.

The consequences for Greece have been devastating. Not only has it seen half a million unemployed young people leave the country in search of work. Its mortality rate has gone up more than 24%, with the largest mortality increases being among babies and the elderly.

As the report states: “Since the implementation of the austerity programme, Greece has reduced its ratio of health-care expenditure to GDP to one of the lowest within the EU, with 50% less public hospital funding in 2015 than in 2009. This reduction has left hospitals with a deficit in basic supplies, while consumers are challenged by transient drug shortages.”