In an article on its website entitled “Athens protects vulnerable communities during COVID-19”, the WHO praised the significant efforts of the Municipality of Athens to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the Greek capital.
“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,” the WHO notes in the beginning of the article.
The organization underlined that as Covid-19 swept across Europe, Athens followed the nationwide measures imposed by the Greek government, 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,” the WHO said, adding that during the pandemic trained staff and volunteers in Athens distributed 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 organization then made special reference to the new services the municipality launched during the pandemic: the Versatile Center for Homeless People, which combines accommodation with health and social care services to promote the physical and mental health of participants; and a specialised support centre for people who inject drugs, which offers temporary accommodation alongside drug treatment and rehabilitation services.
“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.