Greek physician awarded prize for medical peace work

Critic of austerity measures in Greek health system receives award

Dr. Giorgos Vichas awarded prize for medical peace work, Photo: IPPNWThe Greek physician and founder of the Greek solidarity hospital “Metropolitan Community Clinic Ellnikó”, Dr. Giorgos Vichas, is to be awarded with an international prize for his medical peace work. The award will be presented this evening at the 5th International “Medicine and Conscience” Congress and comes with a prize of 3,000 Euros. The prize has been donated by the German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the European “Medical Peace Work” network. A second award (no financial prize attached) will be shared by Fikr Shalltoot, a nurse from Gaza and programme director of the NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and the medical organisation Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

Many Greeks are unable to afford medicine or to visit a doctor due to drastic austerity measures in the health system. Approximately 3 million people have no social security and have to pay for medical treatment out of their own pockets. Dr.Giorgos Vichas, a cardiologist, established a hospital for the poor during the so-called “financial crisis” in Greece in 2011, one of 40 solidarity hospitals in the country, of which there are 12 in Athens. He is an untiring critic of the “deadly austerity policies” of the so-called “three institutions” (formerly known as the “Troika”). He has not only directed his criticism towards the Greek government but also the European public, e.g. in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The catalyst for Dr. Vichas was a patient with heart disease that was undergoing treatment for a second heart attack in the Spring of 2011 but had not visited the clinic for many months. It turned out that he had become unemployed and could no longer afford to pay for his heart medicine. He was suffering from a severe lungoedemata. Dr.Vichas was shocked. On December 15th he founded the solidarity clinic in Ellnikó with four other physicians. Since then the hospital offers free medical treatment and medicine for patients who are uninsured, unemployed or needy. The number of volunteers and doctors, dentists, pharmacists and therapists who treat people for free has now reached 200. Staff also offer free psychological support, baby food and basic articles for infants. These hospitals are life-savers for many Athenians. For instance, the solidarity hospital is the only place in Athens that offers cancer patients free chemotherapy, financed by donations. The clinic also distributes medicines to refugees since March 2016.

Fikr Shalltoot will receive the second medical peace work prize for her incredible courage and humanity with which she led the Gaza team of Medical Aid for Palestinians UK during the attacks on Gaza in 2014. The award honours her dedication over many years to seek international media attention for the catastrophic humanitarian effects of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Shalltoot shares second place with Physicians for Human Rights Israel. The physician’s organisation is to be honoured for their unflagging work over thirty years for human rights in Israel and Palestine and for improved health services, as well as for building bridges between the two peoples.

Further information on the “Medicine and Conscience” Congress can be found here: Information on the international “Medical Peace Work” e-learning project can be found here:

Media contact:
Angelika Wilmen, press officer, IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War/Physicians for Social Responsibility – German affiliate, Körtestr. 10, D-10967 Berlin. Mobile phone: +49-(0)162-2057943, e-mail:,

International Medical Peace Award 2011

The 1st time that the award was given was in 2011. Prof. Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci received the award for her courageous opposition to torture and human rights abuses. Dr Financi is a coroner, teacher and president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. She has played a crucial role in establishing the Istanbul Protocol - the UN principles for the detection and documentation of torture.   

The Jury assessed the nominations in the light of the following criteria

  • health professional or health organisation
  • positive and particular contribution to peace building, violence prevention, conflict transformation and protection of human rights on a local or international level
  • making best use of the competence and opportunities for peace work in the health sector
  • impact on health outcome for individuals and communities through peace work
  • being a role model for medical peace practitioners worldwide