The Impact of Austerity on Health

Budget cuts and crisis are the daily talk of many countries which are suffering from the contemporary economic crisis. Recently, several studies have been showing the impact of austerity on the health of the populations. The effects over mental health are enormous, and there has been a rise on the number of suicides, depressions, and of alcohol and drug dependent users. However, the access to basic healthcare is also threatened. Indeed, in Greece, Portugal or Spain, access to healthcare has become more expensive, even the one which is State-payed, leading many people stop seeking help when they are ill, or to stop vaccinating their children. On the other hand, infectious diseases are developing, something that had become very uncommon in “developed countries”. Greece for instance, saw the rebirth of a Malaria outbreak, which had not existed in the country since 1974. HIV is growing more and more, as a result of the cutbacks on its prevention. The examples are countless, and the more vulnerable populations such as homeless people, elderly or children, are the most at risk from the cuts on the budgets of health programs. A researcher at Stanford University and author of The Body Economic – Why Austerity Kills, Sanjay Basu, made a comparative study with other periods of economic crisis, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s, the post-communist period and others, and concluded that “Ultimately what we show is that worsening health is not an inevitable consequence of economic recessions. It’s a political choice”. Check out this Doctors of the World report or read more about it here!

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