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Greece’s Halki Island Celebrates First Baby Born in Almost 50 Years

The picturesque village of Emporio (Nimborio) on Halki. – Credit: Oliver H. – CC BY-SA 3.0

The residents of the picturesque tiny island of Halki in Greece’s Dodecanese have been particularly happy recently as their homeland saw its first baby being born on the island in approximately 50 years!

A few days ago, a little baby girl was born on the island, as the helicopter of Greece’s National Health Service did not manage to arrive in time to transport the pregnant woman to Rhodes, where she had planned to give birth to her new baby.

Thus, the woman came into labor in the only clinic that exists on the island.

The doctor from Rhodes, who helped his colleagues on Halki via teleconference, posing with the newborn baby a few days after she was born. Credit: Screenshot from SKAI YouTube video

The clinic was only inaugurated last year, and it operates as a ”Regional Multipurpose Clinic” named Dimitrios Kremastinos, after the famous Greek politician and doctor, a native of Halki, who died due to complications from the coronavirus in 2020.

Athena Arvanitidou, the only doctor on the island, along with two nurses, Nikos Stogiannis and Maria Anastasi, helped the woman to bring her baby to life.

The three medical professionals were being directed by doctors at the General Hospital of Rhodes via teleconference, as they needed assistance to help the woman deliver her baby.

”After the impeccable cooperation of the staff with and the exemplary guidance we had from the General Hospital of Rhodes, we completed this difficult mission,” the doctor and the two nurses were quoted as saying by Greece’s TA NEA newspaper.

The Healthcare services on Greece’s small islands

However, this cheerful event hides a much grimmer reality for the permanent residents of Greece’s hundreds of tiny islands and islets.

These islands, with only a few hundred permanent residents each, do not have hospitals as their operation would prove unjustifiably costly for the already-strained Greek National Health Service, known as ESY.

Thus, for years now, these individuals have been used to having to travel to nearby large islands in order to go through medical examinations or surgeries. They either use local ferry boats to go to their appointments, or -in case of a medical emergency- helicopters of Greece’s ESY rush to transfer them to a larger island nearby or to a city of the mainland.

The island of Halki

Halki is located in the Dodecanese archipelago in the Aegean Sea, some 6 kilometers (4 miles) west of the popular Greek island of Rhodes.

With an area of 28 square kilometers (11 square miles), it is the smallest inhabited island of the Dodecanese.

Halki is part of the Rhodes regional unit and it has a permanent population of 330 inhabitants.

However, its population increases significantly over the summer.

The island used to have a much larger population but following emigration, in the mid-20th century, its permanent residents reduced significantly.

A sizable group of the residents moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida, forming a vibrant community over there.

This beautiful and picturesque small island is well known for its traditional architecture, its slow-paced way of life, and its beautiful and calm beaches.

The capital of the island is Emporio (also known as Nimporio among the locals), a traditional little village that stretches around the island’s main port, from where the local ferry boat from Rhodes brings tourists and much-needed fresh produce as well as other essential products.

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