Lani sta David Stuckler (Oxford) in Sanjay Basu (Stanford) objavila zelo odmevno knjigo o negativnih učinkih politik varčevanja “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills“. V New York Timesu sta nato objavila še komentar “How Austerity Kills“. V knjigi sta sistematično zbrala podatke vse od leta 1930 naprej o zdravstvenem stanju po državah in jih križala s podatki o gospodarskih recesijah ter še posebej s politikami varčevanja. Ugotavljata, da se zaradi zmanjševanja sredstev za zdravstvo, ukinjanja določenih storitev in plačljivosti zdravil povečuje smrtnost dojenčkov, prihaja do izbruhov epidemij ter na koncu tudi do povečane samomorilnosti.
V komentarju v New York Timesu pravita:
At one extreme is Greece, which is in the middle of a public health disaster. The national health budget has been cut by 40 percent since 2008, partly to meet deficit-reduction targets set by the so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — as part of a 2010 austerity package. Some 35,000 doctors, nurses and other health workers have lost their jobs. Hospital admissions have soared after Greeks avoided getting routine and preventive treatment because of long wait times and rising drug costs. Infant mortality rose by 40 percent. New H.I.V. infections more than doubled, a result of rising intravenous drug use — as the budget for needle-exchange programs was cut. After mosquito-spraying programs were slashed in southern Greece, malaria cases were reported in significant numbers for the first time since the early 1970s.
In contrast, Iceland avoided a public health disaster even though it experienced, in 2008, the largest banking crisis in history, relative to the size of its economy. After three main commercial banks failed, total debt soared, unemployment increased ninefold, and the value of its currency, the krona, collapsed. Iceland became the first European country to seek an I.M.F. bailout since 1976. But instead of bailing out the banks and slashing budgets, as the I.M.F. demanded, Iceland’s politicians took a radical step: they put austerity to a vote. In two referendums, in 2010 and 2011, Icelanders voted overwhelmingly to pay off foreign creditors gradually, rather than all at once through austerity. Iceland’s economy has largely recovered, while Greece’s teeters on collapse. No one lost health care coverage or access to medication, even as the price of imported drugs rose. There was no significant increase in suicide.
David Stuckler je podal tudi zanimivo primerjavo, in sicer da gre pri politiki varčevanja za nekontrolirane eksperimente na prebivalstvu, ki jih v nobenih medicinskih testiranjih ne bi dovolili: “These are massive uncontrolled experiments with entire populations. Had austerity been organised like a drug trial, with a board of ethics, it would have been discontinued, given evidence of its deadly side-effects and the failure of its purported economic benefits to accrue.”
No, podobne študije se vrstijo, danes je britanska medicinska revija Lancet objavila novo študijo britanskih strokovnjakov o “zdravstvenih učinkih” politike varčevanja v Grčiji. Ugotovitve so primerno dramatične: znižanje proračuna javnih bolnišnic za četrtino in javnih izdatkov za zdravila za polovico, posledica pa epidemije malarije na jugu, povečanje smrtnosti dojenčkov za več kot 40%, povečanje okužb s HIV:
Studying the impact of spending cuts on the Greek health system, academics from the UK found evidence of rising infant mortality rates, soaring levels of HIV infection among drug users, the return of malaria, and a spike in the suicide count, the Independent reports. In their report published today in the medical journal The Lancet the authors accuse the Greek government and the troika to be “in denial” about the scale of hardship inflicted on the Greek people. Between 2009 and 2011 Greece’s public hospital budget was cut by 25% and public spending on pharmaceuticals has more than halved, leading to some medicine becoming unobtainable. Rising unemployment in a country where health insurance is linked to work status has led to an estimated 800,000 people lacking either state welfare or access to health services and in some areas international humanitarian organisations such as Médecins du Monde have stepped in to provide healthcare and medicines to vulnerable people. Government disease prevention schemes have also been cut resulting to a revival of rare infectious diseases like Malaria to return. Reductions in the numbers of syringes and condoms distributed to known drug users has led directly to a spike in the rate of HIV infections in this community, the report said – from just 15 in 2009 to 484 in 2012. There was a 21% rise in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011, which was attributed to reduced access to prenatal services, and infant mortality also rose by 43% between 2008 and 2010. “The experience of Greece demonstrates the necessity of assessing the health impact of all policies carried out by national governments and by the European Union.”