Greece's new health minister lost his sight as a child in grenade blast

A blind politician has been selected to try and shed light on Greece’s healthcare system

Greece’s new Health Minister is Panagiotis Kouroumblis. He announced this position himself on the private channel ANT1.

Kouroumblis was born in 1951 in the town of Matsouki, in western Greece’s Etolokarnania prefecture. He is of Pontian descent, hailing from a refugee family of ethnic Greeks violently expelled from the southern shores of the Black Sea following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. He holds a doctorate in social sciences, is a licensed attorney and was elected three times as a deputy from Etoloakarnania with socialist PASOK, before being elected with on leftist SYRIZA’s ticket in 2012, and with the second highest number of votes (by SYRIZA voters) in the most competitive district in Greece — the Athens second election district.

He is blind due to the explosion of a German WWII-era grenade since the age of 10. His political activism began when he was still attending the School of the Blind in his student years. During the 1970s he spearheaded a disability rights movement in Greece that focused on the integration of the disabled within community, as he felt that they were socially excluded.

The ministry he will head will be named the Ministry of Health and Social Security.