Journey of Hope: Vaccinating Children in Greece
On April 2014, the Hellenic Medical Society’s Executive Committee headed by its President, Dr. Nicholas Mezitis, approved the mission of vaccinating underprivileged Greek children in Athens, Greece. Dr. Demetrios Markouizos was assigned by the committee the supervision and execution of the entire mission.
Greece continues to suffer from the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008. Unemployment rate is as high as 29%. As poverty rose, children became more vulnerable. Their hunger was alarmingly evident and health coverage for children diminished.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent illness and protect these children from highly communicable and/or preventable maladies. The crisis brought these children to this imminent threat of becoming exposed to a variety of illness with no protection. The mortality and morbidity rate of an illness increases exponentially if disease is not prevented.
“Our mission was to protect the children – the future of Greece,” says Dr. Marquizos. “The mission was coordinated with the cooperation of Doctors of the World of Greece. We bought a large supply of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines, with a grant from Hellenic Medical Society, to vaccinate children within the area outside of Athens, Perama, a very poor neighborhood, comprised of underprivileged Greek children and immigrants.”
Mrs. Thanou, a representative from The Doctors of the World and Dr. Kratimemos, a member of the Hellenic Medical Society and Dr. Marquizos went to a health clinic in Perama to initiate the vaccinations of the children.
There, they met with Dr. Maili, a pediatrician and the Director of The Doctors of the World, who explained the dire situation of health coverage and shortage of vaccines in Greece.
“This mission represented an initial outreach in providing these children with necessary and compassionate medical care. Hopefully with the cooperation of the Greece’s health sector, Doctors of the World, Doctors Without Borders, and ‘Omada Agaiou’ we will continue to support and effectuate such efforts,” says Dr. Marquizos. “I hope in the future, with the cooperation of our organization and other Greek American entities in New York, we will raise the requisite funds to improve the health and thus protect the underprivileged children in Greece.”
Dr. Demetrios Markouizos is a board certified pediatrician who has practiced in Astoria, New York for over twenty-five years. He obtained his M.D. from Aristotle’s University in Greece, performed his Pediatric Residency at Methodist Hospital of Brooklyn, N.Y., and was awarded a Fellowship in Medical Genetics at SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at Cornell and is an Attending Physician at NorthShore-LIJ Health System and Cornell. Dr. Markouizos is the author of numerous abstracts and peer reviewed publications.