Greek health minister calls for 'great sacrifices'
September 18, 2012 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
- Likourentzos said the healthcare system is 2 billion euros [$2.6 billion] in debt.
- Greece spends 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) annually on its healthcare system
(CNN) -- Greece is being asked to make "great sacrifices" but the country's sick will not suffer from a lack of medical help, health minister Andreas Likourentzos says.
His comments come as cancer patients protest against health care reforms they say are cutting them off from expensive but life-saving drugs.
Likourentzos, of the New Democracy party, told CNN: "We need to cut down the expenses but these cuts will not negatively affect those who need direct access to healthcare services."
Greece spends 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) annually on its healthcare system -- taking up 5.5% of the country's total economic output.
Likourentzos said the healthcare system is 2 billion euros [$2.6 billion] in debt. The country needs to cut the sector's expenses back from 3.7 billion euros [$4.8 billion] last year to 2.9 billion euros [$3.7 billion] this year, he said.
The cuts are due to be made as Greece, at the center of the eurozone's financial crisis, comes under intense pressure from both its international lenders and suppliers to its health care system.
"What the pharmacists say is true. We owe money to the pharmacists, the pharmaceutical companies and generally all the suppliers of the national health system," he said.
The healthcare service cuts are part of broader austerity plans Greece must push through -- including cuts of 11.5 billion euros [$15 billion] -- if it is to receive its next tranche of bailout cash.
The Troika -- a group of auditors made up of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union -- is in Greece to assess the progress of the country's austerity program and reforms to public finances.
The group is due to produce its report at the end of September.
Part of complete coverage on
May 14, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
The "rich man's club" of Europe faces economic decay as it struggles to absorb Europe's "poor people", according to economic experts on the troubled region.
May 7, 2013 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
Unemployment at a 16-year high and the lowest approval rating for a president in modern French history; this is the wreckage from Francois Hollande's first year in office.
May 2, 2013 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
As European financial markets close for the spring celebration of May Day, protesters across Europe and beyond have taken to the streets to demonstrate.
April 26, 2013 -- Updated 1210 GMT (2010 HKT)
As Croatia prepares to enter the 27-nation European Union, the country's Prime Minister says Italy must return to being the "powerhouse of Europe."
April 25, 2013 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Spain's unemployment rate rose to a record high of 27.2% in the first quarter of 2013, the Spanish National Institute of Statistics said Thursday.
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Turkey is a "source of inspiration" to show how Islam and democracy can go hand-in-hand, the country's deputy prime minister has told CNN.
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Cypriots are discussing the long-term effects of their 10 billion euro bailout. How come the Irish and the Spanish didn't lose their savings? Why us?
March 25, 2013 -- Updated 1355 GMT (2155 HKT)
The financial uncertainty in Cyprus is generating images of long lines at ATM machines and anti-European Union protests.
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
Opinion: We must be careful to avoid panic and reckless measures that would exacerbate the crisis.
March 25, 2013 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Cyprus will "step up efforts in areas of fiscal consolidation." Where have we heard that before? Oh yes. Greece.
March 25, 2013 -- Updated 1813 GMT (0213 HKT)
Finland's political leaders held an informal summit in Saariselka, Lapland. Quest: This was an opportunity to see leaders "at their most honest."
March 27, 2013 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
Cyprus has become the latest eurozone nation to apply for a bailout amid a financial crisis linked to debt defaults in Greece.
March 27, 2013 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
BRICS leaders meet in South Africa to make deal on development bank. But instead of BRICS, today everyone is talking about the "CIVETS."
March 23, 2013 -- Updated 0139 GMT (0939 HKT)
The Cyprus debt crisis is being felt by the banks but also by the people who work at them. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 0010 GMT (0810 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on a Russian hotel maid caught up in Cyprus' financial crisis.
March 18, 2013 -- Updated 1608 GMT (0008 HKT)
Never underestimate the capacity of the Eurozone to shoot itself in both feet, says CNN's Richard Quest.
March 12, 2013 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
Thousands of Greeks are unable to obtain life-saving drugs as pharmaceutical firms say they are limiting supplies to Greece over unpaid debts.
February 21, 2013 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
Spain has seen hundreds of protests since the "Indignados" movement erupted in 2011, marches and sit-ins are now common sights in the capital.
Today's five most popular stories