Plenary Panel: Greek Crisis & Healthcare Education

Greece has recently faced a tremendous challenge with the overwhelming number of migrants/refugees entering the country and serving as the major entry point for their travel to other European destinations. The panel will present the experience of training health professionals and border law enforcement officers in the two major cities in Greece - Athens and Thessaloniki in addition in the islands which receive the majority of the migrants/refugees. The complexities this workforce faces in caring for and managing the needs of these populations will be highlighted along with insights gained in how best to train such a workforce in the field. 


Ms. Elisabeth Kounougeri Petsetaki is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Health Services Management at the National School of Public Health, Greece (NSPH) where she teaches health services management courses in the postgraduate programme. As a health educator in the US at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (UCLA) she directed programmes for school age children and for cancer patients under treatment, rehabilitation and long term. In Greece she works in the area of health workforce development and improving management capacity in health services organizations. She is involved in European collaborative projects including health workforce education and management capacity, infrastructure development in public health, and the management of health and care services of the elderly. She has been an active member of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) and has served on the Scientific Committee and Board of the European Health Management Association (EHMA).  She has a degree in Biology from Rice University and an MPH from UCLA. 


Dr. Elizabeth Ioannidi-Kapolou has studied sociology at the City University of New York and has worked as a senior researcher at the Department of Sociology in the National School of Public Health, Athens. She has participated in many European and national research projects mainly related to social exclusion, social integration of minority groups, socio-cultural diversities in migrants’ health  (e.g.  EU-GATE- Best Practice in Access, Quality and Appropriateness of Health Services for Immigrants in Europe, national focal point for the COST Action  "Health and Social Care for Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Europe (HOME) and the COST- action: «Adapting European health systems to diversity (ADAPT) etc). She was the coordinator in Greece of the training programs addressed to health professionals and law enforcement officers at the First Reception  carried out in collaboration with IOM , Brussels and the Dept. of Sociology, NSPH.

Training Health Professionals and Border/Law Enforcement Officers in Greece: the EQUI Health Project

In the framework of the European project EQUI HEALTH and in collaboration with IOM Brussels the Dept. of Sociology, NSPH carried out  eleven training courses addressed to health professionals and border  law enforcement officers .  The training besides Athens and Thessaloniki was carried out in the five islands that received  the majority of migrants/refugees and had set up "hotspots". An evaluation carried out at the end of each training course proved the necessity of this training in these areas  as well as  the importance of adjustement of the training material in order to address the needs in each country.

Dr. George Koulierakis, health psychologist, is Senior Lecturer and acting Director at the Sociology Department of the National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece. He has more than twenty years of teaching experience on postgraduate level, active participation in more than 70 national and international conferences and experience in leading and implementing public health oriented programs, mostly funded by EU. His research interests are focused on studying, understanding and interpreting psychological determinants of health and illness behaviours among the general public and health services’ users and personnel.

Challenges for Training Health Professionals Within a "Crisis Context"

In 2015, Greece became the primary entry point for 856,723 migrants travelling to Europe. To date, it is estimated that more than 62.000 people, are currently stranded in the country. The increased and emerge health needs of this population, calls for cultural adaptation of health services and poses specific educational challenges to health professionals. We present the rationale, the application and the results of 4 training seminars carried out in the context of the CARE project. 170 health professionals and law enforcement officers attended the seminars. We discuss the challenges of health staff education in the light of the migration crisis.

Dr. Apostolos Veizisis a Medical Doctor (General Practitioner). Since 2004 he has been working at the Headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières - Greek Section - as the Director of the Medical Operational Support Unit. Prior to that, he worked as Head of Mission and Medical Coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins Du Monde in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Albania, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Turkey. He also participated to assessment and emergency assignments and evaluations in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Armenia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Zambia, Malawi, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He has participated and had announcements in international and national medical congresses and contributed to the publication of relevant articles.

The Role of Médecins Sans Frontières in Greece

The medical humanitarian organizationMédecins Sans Frontières has worked to support people on the move in Greece since 1994. For many years the organisation has identified chronic gaps in health care provision, health care approach and health care education. Following the so called Greek Refugee Crisis more issues were identified regarding healthcare education. In addition to direct medical and humanitarian assistance Médecins Sans Frontièreshave advocated with the EU and other national relevant authorities on steps needed to improve education and provision of care for displaced persons, sharing lessons learned by Médecins Sans Frontières.