Social Health Clinics and Crisis Management

by Themistoklis Pellas

Emergency legislation, economic dispossession, unemployment, police coercion, everyday precariousness, internalization of guilt and shame, racism attribute to the ‘management of crisis’ in Greece. Healthcare financial cuts and restructuring  — under the adjustment programme between the greek state, the euro area Member States and the International Monetary Fund  — parallel racialized and gendered criminalization of HIV-positive persons and intensified, discriminatory policing of Roma population and sans papiers immigrants.

The estimated number of people without health insurance today is 3.5 million, that is approximately one third of the total population in Greece. Ad hoc clinics — free of charge and voluntary based — have been initiated the last two years to provide primary care and medications to this unemployed and uninsured population. Daily operation and logistics adapt to a number of different building types: floor-apartments, warehouse-like spaces, university classrooms.

At the workshop “Sociospatial Transformations Under The State of Emergency” in Heraklion Crete, August 1st/9th, participants will join members of the local social health clinic for one of the design studio themes. The premise will be to address the detriment of healthcare services not as a temporary fix until the former state-funded services are restored, but instead, to explore possibilities for an autonomous, scaled down structure in which the scope, content and form of health treatment will target deinstitutionalisation — in contrast to neoliberal de-hospitalization through closures, privatization and criminalization — as part of a broader sociopolitical process.

A particular focus will be made on the dissolution of mental health structures, including the intricacies of the present, widespread psychiatric stigma. Issues to be explored will range from the horizontal relationship of the clinic’s users and the doctor-patient divide to neuroergonomics and different framings of functioning, disability and health.

[Featured image from Marco Casagrande & Toni Halonen “As an architect I see myself as a Trojan horse” ]

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