Ηellenicare, the only Greek project carried out by and for the Greeks living abroad was founded in 1997 by Andrew A. Athens, first president of the World Council for the Hellenes Abroad (SAE).
This inspired humanitarian project focuses on the needs of the Greeks of the Diaspora and through the network of relations forged over the years with the Black Sea countries and the United States has managed to have a very positive impact on the global Greek community and Greece at political and humanitarian level. Most importantly, the Greeks making up the historical Greek communities feel in their hearts that their fellow Greeks care and Greece has not abandoned them.
· Over $120 million worth humanitarian assistance provided by hellenicare
The historical Greek communities in the Black Sea region and elsewhere in Eastern Europe face a number of problems particularly after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Health systems and the economy fell apart in many of these countries with the people having no access even to basic medical care.
Ηellenicare has created roughly 200 well-paid jobs for medical doctors, nurses and support staff hiring highly trained professionals, who are not necessarily Greeks living abroad.
Over the past 10 years, more than $120 million was allocated for salaries, medicines and expendable supplies, in addition to providing free healthcare to Greek communities and native populations. Training seminars for medical and nursing personnel as well as HIV and breast cancer diagnostic programmes are also carried out.
· One million patients have access to hellenicare
Ever since the project was founded approximately 980,000 patients have had access to roughly 2.6 million medical services in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Albania. Apart from the services provided in health clinics, mobile medical units (MMU) staffed with trained medical personnel visit remote regions roughly four times a week on a permanent basis.
The project is active in Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and Albania. Today, hellenicare operates six Medical Centers: three in the Republic of Georgia (a large medical center in capital Tbilisi, a medium-sized in the historical Greek community in Tsalka and a smaller one in the village of Tsikhisjvari).
Also, three MMUs serve more than 48 Greek community villages in Georgia. In five cities near Tbilisi hellenicare has established visiting nurse stations with the purpose of offering first aid in addition to scheduling the MMU rounds. All these programmes were established in 1997. It is worth noting that the hellenicare medical team has performed the first open heart surgery in Georgia while local doctors were offered the opportunity to receive training in Chicago, USA and Thessaloniki hospitals to be in the position today to perform similar surgery in the Tbilisi State Medical University.
In 2001, a Medical Clinic was established in the Alaverdi Polyclinic providing primary medical care, diagnostic and lab tests. Twelve visiting nurse stations serve the villages surrounding Alaverdi in addition to a MMU covering the needs of the residents of roughly 20 villages. The Alaverdi Medical Center is the only one with a gastroscopy division.
Τhe Medical Programme was launched in Ukraine in 1998 with 15 visiting nurse stations in the villages near Mariupol. The new Medical/Diagnostic Center specializing in the treatment of gynecological disorders opened in 2003. Two MMUs operate in Mariupol and Donetsk visiting remote Greek communities four times a week.
In November 2003, hellenicare reached Albania establishing a Medical Center in Georgoutsates in cooperation with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania. The Medical Center features advanced technology medical equipment and serves the Gjirokaster district.
In October 2006, hellenicare launched a laboratory service programme in a state hospital in Himare, while a MMU will undertake to visit remote villages in the region of Vlore offering training seminars to local personnel (doctors and nurses).
In the immediate future, hellenicare intends to establish another Medical Center in South Russia in the region of Caucasus where the Greek population shows a notable increase in size over the past 10 years.
· Food Distribution
Every three months, 1,500 Greek families living in Georgia receive large quantities of food supplies through the Federation of Greek Associations in Georgia while smaller quantities are being distributed in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.