“These very harsh times have taught us that the best outcome always comes with collaboration and consistent efforts. When city and civil society join efforts, the result is more than fruitful, as together we can open an ever-safer umbrella towards marginalized populations. In this battle against time, no one is to be left behind” Kostas Bakoyannis.
An article published by WHO distinguishes Athens among the members of “The Partnership for Healthy Cities” in protecting the vulnerable communities due to COVID19. You can read the WHO article below:
Athens is one of the oldest recorded cities in the world – with the great Parthenon overlooking the city as a reminder of perseverance and endurance.
With age often comes wisdom. As COVID-19 swept across Europe, Greece started implementing nationwide measures to contain the virus, including cancellation of major public gatherings and lock-down measures. The city of Athens followed these measures while also moving quickly to bring experts together from all sectors to protect marginalised communities.
They knew that these strict measures would heavily impact vulnerable groups who would face isolation, disruption to treatment and rehabilitation services, and reduced access to social programmes. These groups were also at higher risk of getting COVID-19 and having a more severe case, due to higher rates of noncommunicable diseases.
“These very harsh times have taught us that the best outcome always comes with collaboration and consistent efforts. When city and civil society join efforts, the result is more than fruitful, as together we can open an ever-safer umbrella towards marginalized populations. In this battle against time, no one is to be left behind,” said the Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis.
Athens is one of 70 cities belonging to a global network committed to saving lives through the prevention of NCDs and injuries – the Partnership for Healthy Cities. From March, the Partnership expanded to urgently address the pandemic, as cities are playing a vital role in the response to COVID-19.
Athens city authorities, together with the Hellenic Liver Patients Association “Prometheus”, the Greek Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice” and funding from the Partnership for Healthy Cities were able to strengthen support to get essential supplies and health information to marginalised communities during the pandemic.
Through the project trained staff and volunteers in Athens distribute food, water, gloves, masks, antiseptic liquid, and information about COVID-19 to those affected by homelessness, people who inject drugs, sex workers and migrants. The informational flyers provided life-saving public health advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19. The city also created temporary housing for more than 400 people affected by homelessness and a specialised support centre for people who inject drugs.
“WHO supports Greece with advocacy and evidence-based policy guidance for COVID-19 and beyond. The ‘whole-of-society’ approach leaves no one behind and amplifies the best of social norms while creating a new positive normal that minimizes stigma and discrimination,” emphasized Marianna Trias, WHO representative for Greece.
The Versatile Center for Homeless People combines accommodation with health and social care services to promote the physical and mental health of participants. The Centre also offers a day service, where residents can access personal hygiene facilities, a healthy meal and internet, in addition to a space for resting. In April, Athens opened a second, more specialised, centre for people who inject drugs. The centre offers temporary accommodation alongside drug treatment and rehabilitation services.
In recognising and addressing the needs of marginalised groups during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Athens is promoting health equity and building a more just city. These programmes reflect progress in tackling the long-standing challenges of homelessness and substance use and improving access to health for hard to reach groups.
Cities must build on the successes and innovation born out of the pandemic to catalyse progress towards ensuring the right to health for all.
Link for the original article on the WHO website