- Title: In sickness, Greek islanders rely on volunteers - and God
- Date: 25th May 2017
- Summary: OFF FOURNOI ISLAND, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** AERIAL VIEW OF FOURNOI ISLAND AS SEEN FROM A HELICOPTER OFF THYMAINA ISLAND, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS AERIAL VIEWS OF THYMAINA ISLAND AS SEEN FROM A HELICOPTER AT SEA, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF 'AEGEAN TEAM' SPEEDBOATS TRAVELLING IN SEA VARIOUS OF 'AEGEAN TEAM' DOCTOR STEFANOS CHANDAKAS STEERING BOAT THYMAINA ISLAND, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BOATS ARRIVING AT THYMAINA/SMOKE FROM FLARES IN THE AIR, AUDIO OF CHURCH BELLS RINGING, TO WELCOME 'AEGEAN TEAM'S' ARRIVAL/ISLAND HOUSES IN BACKGROUND 'AEGEAN TEAM' BOATS DOCKING 'AEGEAN TEAM' MEMBERS DISEMBARKING VARIOUS OF 'AEGEAN TEAM' MEMBERS WALKING UP STEPS OF ISLAND, THROUGH COBBLESTONE STREETS CHURCH OF SAINT GEORGE ON THE ISLAND, LOCALS GATHERED TO SEE DOCTORS IN BACKGROUND 'AEGEAN TEAM' MEDICAL STAFF TAKING DOWN NAMES OF LOCALS WHO WANT TO SEE THE DOCTORS VARIOUS OF ELDERLY LOCALS WAITING TOGETHER TO SEE DOCTORS ELDERLY MAN RESIDENTS SIGNING UP (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) THYMAINA RESIDENT, DIONYSIA AMORGIANOU, AGED 83, GESTURING TOWARDS SAINT GEORGE CHURCH, SAYING: "In the winter, we depend on St. George, on the church. We pray that he keeps us safe, because we are neglected here, (we are) isolated." VARIOUS OF AMORGIANOU HAVING HER EYES EXAMINED BY A VOLUNTEER DOCTOR (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) VOLUNTEER DOCTOR NIKOS TOUROUTOGLOU, AN ONCOLOGIST, SAYING: "You can't have a huge cabinet of drugs and think that, should you need something, you can cure your problem with medicine. A doctor needs to be present, to do examinations." VARIOUS OF LOCAL RESIDENT EVANGELOS MARKAKIS TAKING A SPIROMETRY TEST WITH 'AEGEAN TEAM' MEMBER (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) THYMAINA RESIDENT, EVANGELOS MARKAKIS, SAYING "They are the only people that think of us. We really thank them for this, we really thank them." VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEER DOCTOR ADVISING ELDERLY LOCAL WOMAN (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLUNTEER DOCTOR, FLORENTIA CHRISTODOULIDOU, CURRENTLY LIVING IN NEW YORK, SAYING: "It's very difficult, I spent a weekend in Athens with my friends who are doctors too and I was asking them how come no doctors go to the little islands and every one of them told me the same thing: If everything goes Ok, you are Ok. Something goes wrong, it's just you and God, there's nothing you can do. So, everybody is afraid to come here." FOURNOI ISLAND, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) HOUSES ON ISLAND/HARBOUR FISHING BOATS IN HARBOUR VARIOUS OF LOCAL MAN PAINTING A FISHING BOAT ON A DOCK VARIOUS OF ANOTHER LOCAL PAINTING HIS FISHING BOAT VARIOUS OF LOCAL MEN SITTING ON A BENCH ON THE DOCK LOOKING AT 'AEGEAN TEAM' SPEEDBOATS ARRIVING SPEEDBOATS DOCKING LOCAL SCHOOL, PEOPLE WAITING OUTSIDE TO SEE VOLUNTEER DOCTORS VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEER DOCTORS EXAMINING A LOCAL RESIDENT/ULTRASOUND VARIOUS OF LOCAL RESIDENTS WAITING OUTSIDE TO SEE THE DOCTOR (SOUNBITE) (Greek) FOURNOI RESIDENT DIMITRIS KANAKARIS, AGED 86, SAYING: "I haven't seen a doctor in two years. To get a prescription we have to take the boat to Ikaria. They have abandoned us, we are (treated) like, shall we say, Spinalonga." AGIOS MINAS ISLAND, GREECE (RECENT) (REUTERS) SMALL BOAT FULL OF LOCALS AND GREEK ORTHODOX PRIEST ARRIVING FOR A BAPTISM ON THE ISLAND BOAT DOCKING PRIEST DISEMBARKING VOLUNTEER DOCTOR STEFANOS CHANDAKAS HOLDING THE BABY HE WILL BAPTIZE CHANDAKAS WALKING UP DOCK WITH BABY VARIOUS OF LOCALS, PRIEST, CHANDAKAS, AND AEGEAN TEAM MEMBERS WALKING UP ISLAND TOWARDS CHURCH PEOPLE GATHERED OUTSIDE SMALL CHURCH BAPTISM UNDERWAY INSIDE SMALL CHURCH/CANDLES BURNING VARIOUS OF PRIEST BAPTIZING BABY 'AEGEAN TEAM' DOCTORS, INCLUDING CHRISTODOULIDOU, TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS OF BAPTISM CHANDAKAS, WHO IS GODFATHER, HOLDING THE BABY (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) VOLUNTEER DOCTOR STEFANOS CHANDAKAS, A GYNAECOLOGIST, SAYING: "For a woman from Thymaina, where there is only one boat a week, a simple examination that costs 50 euros in Athens, can cost her 1,000 euros, because you also have to include a seven day hotel stay and other things." BAPTIZED BABY MINAS MARKAKIS BEING HELD BY HIS MOTHER KATERINA IN CHURCH AFTER BAPTISM BABY SLEEPING IN MOTHER'S ARMS (SOUNDBITE) (GREEK) FATHER OF BAPTIZED CHILD, PETROS MARKAKIS SAYING: "He came unexpectedly, we hadn't planned for him, and we had economic difficulties. With their help everything was all right." (AT SEA) (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS AERIAL VIEWS OF 'AEGEAN TEAM' SPEEDBOATS' IN A V-SHAPED FORMATION IN THE SEA TRAVELLING TO THEIR NEXT ISLAND, AS SEEN FROM A HELICOPTER
- Embargoed: 8th June 2017 13:11
- Keywords: austerity doctors crisis health islands Greece
- Location: AT SEA/ THYMAINA, FOURNOI, AND AGIOS MINAS ISLANDS, GREECE
- City: AT SEA/ THYMAINA, FOURNOI, AND AGIOS MINAS ISLANDS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0016IC7807
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When locals on remote Aegean islands fall ill, they usually only have their medicine cabinet or God to turn to.
Densely populated Greek islands suffer from shortages of doctors and health services, and no relief is in sight after years of economic crisis and austerity. Residents must travel to bigger islands, or Athens, at great cost and at the mercy of the weather, which decides when boats will run.
'The 'Aegean Team' - a group of volunteer doctors, are filling the void. The group sets off in speedboats on the hours long journey from Athens to carry out tests and examinations on islands such as Fournoi, with a permanent population of some 500, and Thymaina, with 150 residents, in the eastern Aegean near Ikaria island.
On the doctors arrival to Thymaina church bells clanged, and smoke and firecrackers erupted in celebration. Examinations were held in schools, people's homes, or old abandoned clinics.
The locals of these islands, whose main occupation is fishing, say they have been forgotten, live in fear and isolation, and are treated like they are Spinalonga - an island once used as a leper colony.
Thymaina's first new-born after six years, Minas, was baptized by Aegean Team doctor Stefanos Chandakas, a gynaecologist, who said couples are putting off having children because even nearby islands lack the infrastructure, and the costs of a routine exam can reach 1,000 euros for a woman travelling to Athens. The team covered the family's costs throughout the pregnancy, which was not planned, and Minas' father Petros Markakis said they would not have been able to cope financially without the Aegean doctors.
Volunteer doctor Florentia Christodoulidou, who currently lives in New York, said her colleagues in Athens were afraid to go to the islands, due to the lack of services and support.
"I spent a weekend in Athens with my friends who are doctors too and I was asking them how come no doctors go to the little islands and every one of them told me the same thing: If everything goes Ok, you are Ok. Something goes wrong, it's just you and God, there's nothing you can do. So, everybody is afraid to come here," she said.
Local governors have offered young doctors incentives to fill island vacancies, but many are reluctant.
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