Trust: The outcome of arguments’ credibility and intentions’ truth

Edward Jenner vaccinating patients in the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras: the patients develop features of cows. Edited coloured etching by J. Gillray, 1802. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International. Masks added by MA student Jordan Findlay.

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This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.

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A “The Lancet” editorial highlighted that “Governments and political leaders around the world might become casualties of COVID-19. How they have responded to the outbreak and listened to and communicated with their citizens will be important in deciding their fates in future elections. Public trust must be earnt, and COVID-19 has made clear who is and is not worthy of that trust”.

Recently, in the context of a research question regarding citizens’ trust against the national governing scheme a considerable share of the Greeks surveyed tend to be less generous. Additionally, distrust is being recorded on crucial issues in question with respect to the pandemic crisis, such as vaccination’s promotion which should have been a must. Despite some valiant regional-level efforts on raising awareness, a host of false central-level political maneuvers and ambiguous public statements have already undermined what should have been a national mission driven by a broad consensus.

Read the OECD report Health at a Glance 2021 

Indicatively, according to recent findings entailed in OECD’s Health at a glance 2021 on the share of those vaccinated, Greece is lagging other European countries, e.g., Spain, Portugal, etc. while according to ECDC’s weekly surveillance summary Greece is being included in the list of countries of a very high concern regarding its epidemiological situation. At the same time, according to Dianeosis Research & Policy Institute, the consequences of the extant situation on socio-economic level strengthen both insecurity and uncertainty.

Today, according to Eurostat data the national share of those being in risk of poverty and social exclusion is 27.5% making Greece the 3rd worst country in the EU. Additionally, based on recent data of the same organization, 17% of Greeks officially state that they were unable to keep their home adequately warm, while the energy crisis deepens. Whereas according to Eurofound over 45% of minimum wage earners live under material deprivation. An income limit that has not been altered during 2020 and 2021.

The forementioned come to be linked to Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research conclusions in which a 54% of the households expect the deterioration of their financial status (it was 48% before), a 60% of consumers project their economic capacity’s downturn and 64% say it’s extremely difficult to make ends meet. The same sense prevails across the youth (18 to 29 years old) in the country as an 89% of them reveal their apprehension on how they are going to make ends meet. Because according to Eurofound they are being considered as the age group that segues into unemployment from employment more rapidly compared to any other European country.

Read the opinion piece "Social Scaffolding: The progressive response to inequalities"

On the grounds of facts deployed above, efforts with an intention to cultivate an artificial sense of optimism are proved to be inadequate. Conversely, lack of trust, insecurity and uncertainty combined to pre-existing pessimism are being escalated. People’s trust seems to be lost by those in power. On the other side a realistic and at the same time substantially progressive thinking is being called to prove that it deserves it. By listening carefully, the recorded need of change as reflected on Pew Research Center’s following data.

Particularly 77% of the Greeks surveyed point out that domestic health system must be improved, 80% require reforms on a political level, 84% seek for significant changes regarding the extant developments on economy and 68% indicate that they are dissatisfied with the way Democracy works. The realistic and substantially progressive approach must take advantage and give prominence to all those who compose this “we” deriving from the wide, temperate social majority tank. A tank that will eventually not rely on an one-sided rhetoric of criticism or stillborn communicational artefacts, but onto arguments’ credibility, and intentions’ truth.

Read the opinion piece "Greece’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF): A plan made for the people and by the people?"

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Theodoros P. Dimopoulos

Scientific Associate - Ph.D. Candidate, Hellenic Parliament - University of Thessaly

Till January 2015, I have worked as a Social Worker at the National Health Operations Center, Greek Ministry of Health. In 2014 I have accomplished my MSc studies in Health Economics & Management. At the moment I'm enrolling my Ph.D on Thermal, Wellness Tourism and Rehabilitation aspiring to elaborate on the barriers and perspectives regarding the relevant industry in Fthiotida Regional Unity. 

Prior to that I have worked as a Social Worker at the European Cultural & Research Center of Athens in collaboration with Municipalities of Zografos and Kessariani, while in the past I have worked either as a Social Worker, or as an Administrative officer in several private Healthcare Units/Long term care units, such as Polyclinic Group, etc.

As of 2012 and according to a Ministerial mandate I was appointed as a Board Member of Interconnected General Hospitals of Lamia - Amfissa - Karpenisi, keeping this position for approximately one and a half year.

As of October 2016 till November 2019 I have been appointed by the Minister of Labor, Social Insurance & Social Solidarity as the Head of the Board of Directors at the Social Welfare Center of the Region of Central Greece (Public Law Legal Entity - Governmental Organisation) which is the main regional-level social care provision services cluster, trying to contribute to the implementation of the Greek Government's strategic plan on social care, foster care, "DI", family care and people with special needs protection.

In parrallel, between the the same period I have been an Alternate Member of the Board of Directors of the first National Adoption & Foster-care Council in accordance to the relevant Ministerial Desicion.

I have also been an elected Member of the BoD at the Hellenic Healthcare Services Association, carrying duties of the Chief Communications Officer, while as of 2017 I am a Member of the European Commission’s SCHEER Committee on Rapid Risk Assessment of Healthcare and Environmental Risks, participating in annual external experts' meetings with focus on public health risks assessment.

Finally, my current professional capacity is linked to the Hellenic Parliament's function, as I'm an MP's Scientific Associate, providing assistance regarding daily institutional obligations, parliamentary control and other activities, while at the same time I'm a Member of the Opposition Party's Social Care & Solidarity Department, due to my experience derived from my tenure in office as a former Head of the BoD at the Social Welfare Center, Central Greece Region, Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs.