22 Feb 12 28 Nov 16

Greece: MSF provides assistance during freezing conditions

MSF launched an emergency medical response in Athens this month, helping homeless people suffering in freezing temperatures and bad weather.

Athens city authorities opened temporary emergency shelters for homeless people which MSF teams, made up of a doctor, nurse, social worker and logistician, visited in order to :

  •     provide medical screening and treatment
  •     support patient's referral to the national health system
  •     provide non-food and personal hygiene items to patients


The teams provided medical assistance to more then 245 people in emergency shelters. The majority of the homeless people were male, aged 30-50, more than half were non-Greeks, with the vast majority among them being from North Africa.

Medical needs

The MSF teams responded to medical conditions such as upper respiratory tract infection, muscular-skeletal problems, gastrointestinal disorders and skin diseases related to bad weather and long term bad living conditions.

Chronic non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart problems were also addressed and referred for follow up to the health facilities.

The teams also identified a lack of hot water and personal hygiene items, as well as an insufficient number of blankets and clothes.

Despite the mobilisation of Greek society, the authorities' response was still lacking a coordinated mechanism.

Concerns remain about the overall situation of homeless people in terms of access to health care and social services as most of them have no health insurance and also in terms of  shelter as the emergency centres close soon.


MSF's emergency intervention in Greece ran from 1st to 19th February 2012

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