«The SCORE project» Prof. Apostolos Vantarakis: Professor of the University of Patras/Medical Department, Coordinator of the project SCORE
Prof. Apostolos Vantarakis: Professor of the University of Patras/Medical Department, Coordinator of the project SCORE
Apostolos Vantarakis is Professor of Hygiene at the Department of Medicine of the University of Patras. He was an Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection at the Department of Medicine of the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece for 4 years (June 2004 – May 2008). He received his BA in Biology from the University of Patras in Greece, M.Sc. in 1991 in Genetic Toxicology from Swansea University College, Wales, UK, and Ph.D. in Hygiene-Environmental Microbiology in 1998 by the University of Patras. He is a representative of ELOT in the Technical Committee CEN / TAG4 / WG6 on issues of standardization of molecular techniques for detecting viruses in food. He is an expert of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food at meetings organized by the European Union and CEFAS on virological control and shellfish hygiene in general. He was a Technical Inspector at the Unified Food Control Agency, Ministry of Rural Development, Head of the Laboratory Control & Measurement Department. He was a Technical Inspector at Occupational Risk Prevention Center / Labor Inspectorate of Western Greece on Occupational Health and Safety issues. It has supervised over 10 European programs (European Union, FP7) and over 50 research programs have / had scientific responsibility (Ministries, ROPs, Prefectures, Municipalities). He has supervised 5 Ph.D. theses (2 in English) and over 30 diploma theses (at postgraduate level) and 40 diploma theses (at undergraduate level). He has published over 90 research papers in foreign language journals (post-crisis), 1 Global Water Pathogen Project, 5 Greek Books (1 translation, 3 papers in chapters), 8 Educational notes for undergraduate and postgraduate students, 10 research papers in Greek magazines (after crisis),> 70 articles in Greek magazines / newspapers (without crisis). He has organized 5 foreign and 20 Greek conferences / conferences, has published more than 90 papers in international conference proceedings, 70 papers in Greek conferences, 9 speeches as invited to international conferences and more than 50 lectures / presentations in Greek conferences and workshops She has taught at Postgraduate level in over 5 postgraduate Teaching programs at undergraduate level in over 10 lessons. Since May 2008, drinking water, bottled water, food and wastewater analyzes have been carried out for the control of their microbiological and chemical quality as well as Public Health Risk Assessment in the context of the activities of the Hygiene Laboratory at the University of Patras. He is the Quality Manager of the accredited laboratory (AP 550-2). In addition, he is a technician responsible for the accredited Microbiological and Molecular Virological Testing of the Hygiene Laboratory. To date, over 10000 environmental analyzes of water and food, air, soil and surfaces have been conducted under his scientific responsibility. He is the representative of the Department of Medicine of the University of Patras at the National Committee of Public Health of the Ministry of Health. He was Chairman of the Sports Committee of the University of Patras, the academic years 2014-2017 and Member of the Board of Water Quality of the University of Patras from 2014 until today. He is a member of the Library and e-Class Committee of the Department of Medicine since 2012 and a member of the Coordinating Committee on Health and Safety of the University of Patras in 2009-2017. He is a member of 10 scientific societies and assistant editor in Water Science Technology & Water Safety, Advances in Public Health and a member of the Editorial Board of Food & Environmental Virology, Journal of Diseases and Global Health, Advances in Public Health and Reviewer in Virology Journal, Journal of Virological Methods, Environmental Research and Hygiene, International Public Health Journal.
«Experience of MSF on how the local community supported the people on the move and stranded and what can be better»Dr. Apostolos Veizis: Director of the Medical Operational Support Unit for MSF in Greece
Dr. Apostolos Veizis: Director of the Medical Operational Support Unit for MSF in Greece
The medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has worked to support people on the move in Greece since 1996. Apostolos Veizis is Director of the Medical Operational Support Unit for MSF in Greece. In this role, he is on the front line of the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis in Europe. Here, he shares his experiences.
Everything has changed since the closing of borders between Greece and its European neighbours last year. The “Balkan route” from Greece through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Serbia officially shut down on 18 February 2016. The closure meant that people could no longer move forward from Greece. They continued to arrive at the islands and the mainland, but there could be no flow out of the country. Tent camps have been set up all over, including on the Greek islands, to accommodate these people. We call them “mushroom camps” because they have spread so much across Greece. There are now approximately 50 of these tent camps, full of more than 50 000 people just waiting.
In more than 15 years working in this area, this is the worst situation I have ever seen in Europe. Sometimes I think it must be a bad dream, but there is a tent camp 10 kilometres from my office. So this is not a dream. It is reality.
No longer in transit but stranded
Everything changes when you are dealing with a group of stranded people, rather than people in transit. We used to see people only briefly for quick health checks; they didn’t want to stop for health services because Greece was just a transit point for them – a place from which they hoped to move on quickly. Now we need to start looking at existing medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health-related symptoms, along with pregnancy and disability. MSF is also active in certain areas of treating chronic diseases.
I manage the relationship between MSF and the humanitarian and medical sector in Greece, including civil society organizations, academic and medical institutions, research centres and other relevant actors throughout the country. My job is to contribute to identifying and then developing opportunities for MSF to work with partners to provide medical operational support. MSF was also authorized to provide vaccinations in Greece, and these efforts reached 10 500 children from the ages of 6 months to 17 years across the country in 2016.
Greece passed a law in 2016 that allows everyone in the country to access health care, including asylum seekers. But we still see many problems in terms of both access and capacity. Since the middle of 2016 MSF’s focus has transitioned to mental health, chronic disease and sexual reproductive health care in Greece. MSF is currently active in more than 20 different locations across the country. We handed over our primary health care activities to actors that received European funding to take on this responsibility.
We and many other organizations are confronted with the harsh realities and challenges of the Greek health care system. There is a lack of transportation to take patients to hospitals. There are few cultural mediators or translators in health care settings who have the language skills and cultural understanding to act as a bridge between patient and care provider. What’s more, sometimes we are able to treat people in hospitals – deliver a baby or perform an operation – but then we often send them back to a tent camp. Is that the best effort authorities can make in this situation? I don’t think so.
Changing health profile
The quality of living conditions, of course, is an extremely important factor for this stranded population. It is one thing to have substandard living conditions with poor-quality food, water and sanitation when the situation is temporary. It is another thing to live in terrible situations and to have complete uncertainty about when or even whether your situation will get better. At first, people hold onto their dreams of continuing on to other parts of Europe. But they soon realize this dream is over; they have to accept that they will stay in Greece, many living in deplorable conditions with little information about what the future holds.
In the past, anxiety was the number one health problem we treated in our mental health programmes, largely because people arriving in Greece were coming from areas of violent conflict or had experienced violence and trauma during their journey. Today, the number one health problem we see is no longer anxiety. It is depression, aggravated by the dismal living conditions and lack of information.
People feel insecure; they worry about their safety. They feel isolated and cut off from the information they need. They feel discriminated against. Living like this affects people’s mental health. It affects their mental well-being. If we define health using WHO’s definition – as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity – then we can’t say there is access to appropriate health care here.
More resources, new approaches needed
We need governments and international organizations to look at alternatives to the encampment system. We need funding for programmes for particularly vulnerable people, such as victims of violence or torture, unaccompanied minors and those with pre-existing medical conditions. We, as Europeans, need to move beyond political frustrations and bargaining and we need to work towards minimizing barriers for people who have fled some of the most violent conflicts, persecution and extreme forms of poverty of our time.
When it comes to people’s health, we need to try to put politics aside. We should not punish people for having to flee for their lives.
I am frustrated, but I am not without hope. I see that we are still able to help people, and this gives me hope.
Karolina Akinosoglou: Ass. Professor, University of Patras
Karolina Akinosoglou was born in Patras. She studied medicine at the University of Patras, where she graduated in 2006. She completed her PhD in the field of molecular and cellular immunobiology in malaria at Imperial College London (2011) and gained specialized clinical experience in department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, at Lister Unit of Northwick Park Hospital, London (2006-2010). At the same time, she served as a Problem Based Learning tutor, teaching first and second year undergraduates of the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, and was actively involved in the supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate biology research students (2007-2010). She completed her specialty in internal medicine and infectious diseases at University Hospital of Patras (2017). She has extensive teaching experience at both undergraduate (Imperial College London, University of Patras) and postgraduate level (MSC University of Patras on Public Health, MSC University of Patras on Personalized Medicine, MSC University of Athens on Infectious Diseases) including academic lead of series of courses (Tropical Medicine) and supervision of postgraduate and doctoral theses. Her research interests are mainly focused in the field of infectious diseases and, in particular sepsis and systemic inflammation. Respective work has been presented at international conferences (EMBO Meeting on Molecular and Population Biology of Mosquitoes and Other Disease Vectors 2009 & 2013, Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2011, Annual BioMalPar Conference 2012, European Conference of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 2015-2019, American Society of Microbiology – Microbe-ICAAC 2015-2018, Annual Meeting of the European Society of Peadiatric Infectious Diseases) and received multiple awards from international scientific societies (American Society of Microbiology 2015 & 2018, European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 2017) while they have resulted in numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her work in the field of HIV infection, has been funded by competing programs (K. Karatheodori University of Patras Scholarships Program 2018), Gilead Donation Program “Asclepius” 2016) and has repeatedly received scholarships based on excellence from the European AIDS Clinical Society. In addition, she has been actively involved in a large number of international multicenter clinical trials (> 15) in the field of internal medicine and infectious diseases. She has served as a reviewer in several international high-impact journals (BMC Infectious Diseases, Critical Care, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Plos One, Scientific Reports), as well as, being a member of the organizing and scientific committee or invited speaker in a variety of national scientific internal medicine and infectious diseases conferences. She is an active member of a significant number of Greek and international scientific societies (IDSA, ASM, ESCMID, GMC, EEMAA, EEL etc.) and has been a member and vice president of the board of the Medical Society of Western Greece and the Peloponnese (IEDEP). In addition to her teaching and research activities, she engages in clinical work in the department of Internal Medicine and Infections Diseases at University General Hospital of Patras, attending in and outpatients but also in the training of respective residents . In 2017 she was elected Assistant Professor at University of Patras, where she was appointed in February 2018.
Dr. GEORGIA KONSTANTOPOULOU
Dr. Konstantopoulou Georgia graduated from the Department of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and obtained her MSc from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education. She is a cognitive psychotherapist of adolescents and adults and children and adolescents certified from the Children’s Hospital “Agia Sophia” and the Department of Medicine of the University of Athens, respectively. Her clinical and psychotherapeutic experience started in 1999, and in 2009 she founded the “Special Office of Health Consulting Services” of the University of Patras, which aims to provide psychological support to all University students, undergraduate, and postgraduates. Her research interests focus on the investigation of psychosocial factors and treatment strategies that are associated with patients’ and their caregivers’ quality of life as well as their emotional and anxiety state. Since 2014, her main research interest is “Telemedicine Service Modeling for Distance Diagnosis and Evaluation of Emotional Disorders”. This project aims to indicate that the use of machine learning leads to the prevention of suicide, and it has been presented in many international and national conferences.
Stefanos Reppas, Public Health MPH, International Medicine – Health Crisis Management MSc (c) Biomedical Science BA, Primary Education BA
Participants to the Webinar will receive Certificate of Attendance.
Registrations can be made until Monday 26 October 2020, at 12:00. Maximum number of participants to the Webinar will be 40 people. For this reason, priority will be given to those who will register first.
Register now by filling in the following registration form!