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COPD patients trapped in the financial crisis in rural Crete

dianagosalvez Diana Gosálvez Prados last modified 5/02/2016 12:28

The global economic crisis has badly affected health and health care in Greece, described in the literature as having the omens of a Greek tragedy.

Tsiligianni IG. COPD patients trapped in the financial crisis in rural Crete. Lancet Respir Med. 2013 Dec;1(10):e31-2. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213260013702273



Increased fuel taxes have led to a rise in wood burning for heating in rural areas of Crete, which has subsequently led to a worsening of dyspnoea symptoms in patients with COPD and asthma.2 In the countryside, fireplaces have always been used for heating; however, before the financial interventions of the International Monetary Fund, most people invested in central heating, often paying a large amount of money disproportionate to their family annual income. The current high cost of petrol (which has doubled since last year) has meant that people can no longer afford to use it for central heating, even though rural mountain villages often reach very low temperatures. People are therefore paying substantial amounts of money to convert their household central heating to a system that uses a core product of olive oil, which is easily accessible in rural areas at much lower cost than petrol. However, even if wood burning for heating is appropriate in rural areas, it still leads to extensive felling of olive trees. Olive trees have always played a major part in Crete's cultural history from before the Minoan era, and references about them exist in Minoan archaeological excavations and in Homer's Iliad. However, their increasing value as a fuel has meant that some farmers have woken to find their olive trees cut down, meaning loss of property and annual family income.

Tsiligianni IG.