The GOVERNANCE of the health system with regard to COVID-19 relates to pandemic response plans and the steering of the health system to ensure its continued functioning. It includes emergency response mechanisms, as well as how information is being communicated, and the regulation of health service provision to patients affected by the virus.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, an influenza pandemic preparedness plan was in place. The Influenza Pandemic Action Plan has been in existence since 2005, but has undergone substantial revision since then due to the evolving threat from new influenza strains, the influenza A (H1N1) 2009 pandemic and the subsequent programme of pandemic planning and exercises that have been implemented.
The Plan is currently being revised and adapted again, depending on the course of the pandemic and international information from the relevant agencies, as well as the National Pandemic Council. The main features of the Plan relate to (a) epidemiological surveillance, (b) the use of antiviral drugs for prevention and treatment, (c) strategic use of a vaccine to prevent infection, (d) measures of social distancing; and (e) social coherence and the smooth operation of the economy.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hellenic Ministry of Health has taken the following actions:
• Operational coordination: 24-hour operation of the Operations Coordination Centre of the Directorate of Operational Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies (EKDY) in order to address and manage all issues, as well as requests from agencies and citizens, relating to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
• Continuous cooperation at all Government levels, promoting discussion and providing information and relevant recommendations, in order to make decisions and formulate the national strategy, in light of continuous monitoring of the epidemiological data in the country.
• Continuous cooperation for the direct exchange of new data and the transfer of know-how with:
o the World Health Organization (WHO)
o the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC)
o the European Commission (EU)
o the Ministries of Health of the EU Member States
o The Public Health Emergency Committee for Infectious Diseases, comprising of 31 scientists, meets and discusses all issues that arise daily, with an advisory role on matters related to the pandemic.
o The National Committee for Public Health, consisting of 11 public health executives and scientists, meets daily in response to the coronavirus and has proposed all the measures that have been taken so far during the lockdown and transition period. Among other things, the committee's decisions have included:
the epidemiological surveillance of the country and the adoption of restrictive measures aimed at protecting the public health of citizens;
the reopening of public sector services;
resumption of operation of private sector industries.
Starting on 25th February 2020, several legal acts of urgent nature (nine with a fast-track procedure) addressing the consequences of the COVID-19 spread risk have been voted on by the Greek parliament. The acts were on supporting society and entrepreneurship and on ensuring smooth operation of the market and public administration. They also concerned restrictions on movements and gatherings, increasing health workforce capacity, economic measures, suspension of businesses and workplaces, etc.
National response to COVID-19 is led by the National Public Health Organization (NPHO) and the Ministry of Health. Information is communicated through the official website of the NPHO, government websites and through mass media. The Head of the Public Health Emergency Committee for Infectious Diseases, provided daily announcements on the development of the coronavirus pandemic in Greece in the peak of the pandemic. In addition, the General Secretary of Civil Protection and other Ministers join the briefing to deliver relevant information pertaining to theirarea of responsibility.