About Cyprus

Health

Current developments in health care technology, the ageing of the population, the increasing number of hospital beds, physicians, new laboratories and rising consumer expectations for more sophisticated and expensive medical treatment, are the characteristics of most of the health care systems in developed countries.

The demand for health care in Cyprus is increasing. The number of elderly people is low but growing and creates new service demands. Technological changes, both in terms of equipment and pharmaceuticals, is rapid. Much of this is integrated and disseminated rapidly due to commercial incentives. Some new therapies, for instance new drug treatments after the onset of heart attacks, offer significant health gains at modest cost. The problems of managing these new services in diagnosis, treatment and prevention are great.

The standard of health of the Cypriot population compares favourably with that of the population of developed countries.
Cyprus has been successfully freed of common infections and parasitic diseases and the pattern of morbidity resembles that of developed industrial nations with cardiovascular diseases, malignancies and car accidents predominating as the causes of death. It should be pointed out that Cyprus has successfully eliminated malaria in the past and more recently echinococciasis, through the implementation of special campaigns. Current educational and preventive programmes are proving successful in almost eliminating the incidence of thalassaemia, which was a severe health problem.

Health Services
The medical needs of the Cyprus population are met through three systems of health services: The government health sector, the private health sector, and a number of schemes covering specific sections of the population.

Government Provision: Health care is provided free through government facilities to those who are eligible. The groups formally covered by this scheme are: government employees, individuals earning less than Cú6.000, households earning less than Cú10.000 per annum and households with more than three children. Individuals with an income between Cú6.000 and Cú9.000 and households with an income between Cú10.000 and Cú14.000 have health care provided at 50% of the prescribed rates.
The range of services offered through the government health scheme is comprehensive and includes visits to general physicians, specialist consultations, inpatient stays, medical care given abroad in specialities not offered in Cyprus and all drugs prescribed.

Furthermore, medical care free of charge is provided in all cases receiving treatment at the accident and emergency departments irrespective of the economic situation or the nationality of the person involved, including visitors. However, if these cases need hospitalisation, subsequent care fees have to be paid.
The hospital system has undergone substantial change during this decade. New hospitals in Larnaca, Paphos and Limassol were built and the building of the new Nicosia General Hospital has already started. A new hospital for Famagusta has also been planned.

Government provision of health care is funded out of general taxation.
Private health sector: It is open to all those who can afford to pay for their treatment. Private medicine is dominated by a large number of physicians in individual practice. A number of polyclinics have also been established in urban areas with a number of physicians offering a range of medical services.

Special Schemes: A number of special schemes cover specific sections of the population. These include:
(i) Medical Services provided by the Trade Unions to the employed persons and their dependants. These services provide mostly primary health care. The above schemes use both the government and private sector whenever secondary or tertiary care services are needed, through a partial reimbursement of medical expenses.
(ii) A number of employer-sponsored arrangements, all of which provide free medical care mainly through public health facilities.

Apart from the curative services offered by the public and private sectors, the public services, in cooperation with other Ministries and the Municipal Authorities, are concerned with the provision of preventative health services in the form of health education, inoculations, control of epidemics and infectious diseases, the disposal of sewage, the control of the quality of drinking water, food etc.

While the private sector is mainly concentrated in the urban areas, the public health services provide adequate coverage for the rural areas, ensuring accessibility through a network of rural hospitals, rural health centres, subcentres and dispensaries. These services are staffed with doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, health inspectors and health visitors who ensure the provision of adequate services.

At the end of 1999 the number of persons per doctor stood at 357, while for dentists it was 1.054. There were 47.6 general and specialised hospital beds per 10.000 people and the ratio of persons per bed was 216.

It is well known that health standards depend not only on the availability of health resources such as hospitals, doctors, nurses but also on general environmental conditions and Cyprus has been fortunate to have a mild temperate climate while the absence of heavy industry has meant that air pollution has been limited. In addition the standard of education and early attempts at provision of piped water, sewage disposal and good sanitation ensure the right hygienic environment.

Indeed the standard of health of the Cypriot population can be considered quite high. Already expectancy of life at birth has reached 80 years for women and 75 years for men. Infant mortality rates have been successfully contained to 6 per thousand of population. The crude death rate stands at 7,6 per thousand of population.

Health Care Reform
The reform of the health care sector is a high priority of government health policy.The present system of health care has for long been critised for the fragmentation of services, the lack of coordination between the public and private health sector, the lack of equity in its financing and in general its inability to respond to the expectations of the population.

On 20 April 2001, the House of Representatives enacted a law for the introduction of a National Health System (NHS), which will provide health care free at the time of delivery. It will be universal as regards population coverage and will be financed by contributions from the state, the employers, the employees, the self-employed, the pensioners and all those who have non-employment incomes.

The NHS will be administered by the Health Insurance Organisation, a public law body managed by a tripartite Board. The Organisation will purchase health services from the Government and private medical institutions and services.

Entry Date 8/8/2001

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