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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-04-10

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cyprus new Health Minister Christos Patsalides has described the implementation of a National Health Scheme (NHS) in Cyprus as a great challenge, noting that its operation is not feasible by the end of 2008.

    We want a NHS that will operate properly and will be the outcome of substantiated studies, he underlined in an interview with CNA, refraining from referring to timetables. As he noted his aim is to have a comprehensive update on where things stand with a view to determine with his aides a road map for the implementation of the Scheme.

    Patsalides also expressed his determination to work to improve any shortcomings in the health sector. He has already asked for a review of the criteria of patients who are eligible to be sent by the state overseas for treatment.

    Soon, he added, he will announce a National Scheme against Smoking and that among his priorities is to render Cyprus a centre of medical services.

    Referring to his priorities after the assumption of his duties on February 29, Patsalides said that his primary goal and vision is to improve the health services, simplify procedures and to introduce a new mentality especially as regards the method patients are approached and treated.

    For me the field of health is of paramount importance and constitutes a sign of culture. And if we want to be a modern European state this must be made clear through the health services, which need to be greatly improved, he noted.

    Patsalides said developments in the health sector are continuous and we need to follow them and set up all those systems on the basis of which there will be improvement in this sensitive sector.

    As regards the implementation of the NHS, Patsalides said it is a fact that the system, as it is today, has many shortcomings that is why for many years we have been seeking to implement a new NHS.

    Patsalides noted the NHS remains a fundamental goal and priority, underlining that the Scheme that will be introduced must be viable and functional.

    Unfortunately experience world-wide has taught us that many similar systems have collapsed. We need the correct planning otherwise it will not work right. That is why we need to hold proper consultations. It has been said that the Scheme will operate by the end of 2008 but this is not feasible because we need to have these consultations, bills will have to pass by the Parliament and no one can guarantee how long this will take, the Health Minister said.

    He noted that he does not want to commit himself to various deadlines adding that he has already met with the NHS consultants and he has asked for a comprehensive presentation of all involved in the Scheme, with a view to set up a road map.

    Patsalides also said that we will take into consideration the experiences from other Schemes with a view to implement a Scheme that will be appropriate for Cyprus.

    Prior to the NHS implementation, the ministry is in the process of promoting the autonomy of state hospitals for which guidelines have already been decided.

    We have taken relevant decisions and we are proceeding through pilot programmes, he noted.

    Referring to problems faced by hospitals Patsalides said that in some cases equipment is bought but the relevant department cannot operate due nursing staff shortage. He said that Ministry has begun a campaign aiming at raising the number of students at the Nursing School.

    Approximately 140 students are expected to graduate from the School this year and the number will rise in the next years. He expressed the belief that this will allow the opening of new hospital departments.

    Patsalides also praised the high quality of medical services provided by Cypriot doctors, adding that Cyprus has every potential to become a centre of health services.

    He said that Cyprus should take example from neighboring states such as Israel where specialized health centres operate. We can also establish centres of excellence for the whole region and I intend to propose a survey to be carried out which will include incentives to attract locals and foreigners to invest in such ventures, that will benefit Cyprus both financially and politically as well as the Cypriot citizen, he added

    Patsalides also said that a proposal he made for the establishment of a centre that will monitor food safety has been endorsed by the European Food Safety Authority.

    Regarding the National Scheme against Smoking which he intends to announce soon, Patsalides said it includes a number of proposals to improve monitoring of non-smoking areas, a ban on smoking in public areas and how well centres which help people stop smoking perform. There are also proposals on tobacco taxation.

    Asked about the government programme to send patients abroad for specialized surgery, Patsalides said he has asked for the reviewing of the economic criteria which determines the eligibility of citizens to participate in this programme.

    Asked about the establishment of a Medical School in Cyprus, Patsalides recalled that the decision taken provides for the operation of the School in 2011. He said that he will hold meetings on this issue with the Rector of the University of Cyprus and with the Minister of Education, in the light of the survey conducted on issues including the schools operation, financial issues, the number of students and faculties.


    Minister of State for European Affairs of France Jean-Pierre Jouyet arrives today in Cyprus for a working visit during which he will present the programme of the EU French presidency. France will hold the EU presidency during the last six months of 2008.

    Jouyet will be received by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and will hold official talks with Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. During the talks Kyprianou and Jouyet will discuss European and regional issues, the Cyprus question and bilateral relations.


    The European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Regulation amending the ``Green Line Regulation`` to further facilitate trade on the island of Cyprus.

    According to a European Commission press release the proposal provides for a general lifting of duties on agricultural products originating in the northern part of Cyprus when being traded across the ``Green Line``. So far duties had to be paid for a variety of agricultural products causing financial and administrative burden for Turkish Cypriot traders.

    Furthermore, the Commission proposes to increase the total maximum value of goods contained in the personal luggage of persons crossing the line from 135 to 260 so as to encourage the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. If the proposal is adopted goods up to this amount could be introduced free of customs, excise duties and taxes into the government-controlled areas when introduced across the ``Green Line``.

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