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The NHS is here to stay! – Article by Giorgos T. Georgiou – AKEL Political Bureau member


31 July August 2022, “Haravgi” newspaper

The National Health Scheme (NHS), as it has been stressed many times, is one of our people’s greatest social achievements in the history of the Republic of Cyprus.

It was and is only natural that the forces that opposed the NHS’ formation, especially the powerful interests of the insurance companies and big capital, would oppose this reform, just as it is only natural that they would continue to oppose it after its implementation. It is also a fact that the forces opposed to the NHS would continue to undermine it and devise ways, means and other machinations to undermine it.

No compromise can be made, either with regards the character of the NHS based on solidarity or its universal access. A multi-level health care system is not a health care system. Nor can there be a NHS for the few, the haves and have-nots, which will hit the poorer sections of the population hardest. On the contrary, the wealthy and affluent strata need to make a far greater contribution for its implementation and operation.

Unfortunately, just as was the case from the very beginning, powerful interests and the insurance companies found allies among certain political forces, especially the government ruling forces and the ruling DISY par, who destabilized the promotion of the reform. The same is happening today, where those forces who did not believe in the character of a NHS centred on people’s needs are attacking it from all sides.

We recall that the day after the decision to promote the reform of the NHS was taken by the Presidency, the Ministry of Finance under Harris Georgiades sent a letter to the Parliamentary Health Affairs Committee expressing its disagreement with the promotion of the reform. The same thing happened from time to time with various political figures, who were talking about a “mini-NHS” and others who are attempting to push through a multi-insurance system the back door on a daily basis.

The decision of the President of the Republic N.Anastasiades, to appoint Petros Agathangelou, President of Cyprus Medical Association, to the Board of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) is part of this effort aimed at gnawing away at the NHS. It is no coincidence that the Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation (OEB) and Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEBE) have expressed their broader support for this effort. Where are the political forces of the country, DISY, DIKO, EDEK? AKEL is the only force standing firm and defending the NHS and its universal character as the people’s precious asset.

Serious questions are being raised about the authoritarianism of the government ruling forces in insisting on an appointment that provokes the whole of society and poses a danger to the smooth operation of the NHS. For example:

  • The law stipulates that no Health Service provider may participate in the Board of the HIO. What is behind this appointment?
  • How is it possible for the Cyprus Medical Association according to the law should consult with the HIO on matters concerning doctors and, on the other hand to decide on what doctors are asserting?
  • The Chairperson of the Committee on Incompatibility Iliana Nikolaou, spoke of the need for an investigation into the appointment.

It is quite clear, taking into account the indignation of the people and the protests of the ‘Social Alliance’ movement, that the only remedy is the revocation of the government’s appointment of Petros Agathangelou to the Board of the HIO. The issue is certainly not personal, nor does it have anything to do with the problems that plague the NHS. It is primarily a matter of crucial importance and concerns its very existence. The NHS is here to stay and the people will act as a steamroller to stop any forces and circles seeking to reverse its character and philosophy.

There is no need for either stubbornness or obsessions, much less for ‘Trojan horses’ to dismantle and deconstruct the NHS. Let us as a political system and as a society demonstrate that what is most important today is to safeguard the NHS, because it really is the greatest long-term investment of a lifetime.

AKEL will remain the leading force in the defence of this great social achievement. It will continue to serve the poor, the elderly and the sick, and will work in a creative and constructive way to keep the NHS on track without any derailment precisely because for AKEL and the People’s Movement of the Left it is a matter of life and death!

P.S.: This article was written during the week when developments were ongoing at all levels. I do not know the eventual outcome surrounding the appointment of P.Agathangelou. What is certain is that the glass has been broken. It will now take years of treatment. The President of the Republic N. Anastasiades and DISY will bear a grave responsibility in this issue too. The people are paying a very high price for the government’s authoritarianism and arrogance.



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