President of the Republic Nikos Christodoulides announced on Monday that on Wednesday the Ministry of Health will present to the Council of Ministers a plan to subsidize travel, accommodation and food expenses for patient escorts abroad.

Addressing an event at the Christina A. Apostolou Foundation in Larnaca, on the occasion of 18 years of service, the President also said that the next proposal to go through the Council of Ministers is the “Patient Ombudsman”.

“We have already met with the Minister (of Health) and preparations have been made and very soon it will go through the Council of Ministers because it also touches the sector for which we are here tonight, of patients and the subsidy of escorts abroad,” he said.

The President said that he will personally considers it a success for the government and the state “to reach a point where we do not have to send patients abroad, because we cannot talk about a European state when this need arises”.

The President added that the state must ensure “that we have these services in our country because then we will be able to talk about quality in health services.”

“So, it is right to spend this money, but at the same time we have to invest, and we have to take this expenditure into account because it means that there is weakness in the state, in our country and we have to invest in these areas so that families stay in the country”, he added.

President Christodoulides noted that subsidizing travel, accommodation and food expenses for escorts abroad has been a long-standing request.

In his remarks, Minister of Health Michalis Damianos said that in 2023, a total of 1,523 patients were referred abroad for treatment at university clinics and reference centers in Germany, Israel, France, Britain, Belgium, Sweden and Greece.

Addressing the event, the Minister said the citizens’ health is a primary concern of the State and for this purpose the “General Health System has been formed, which we continue to strengthen and expand”.

However, he continued, as a small country, “sometimes we do not have the necessary structures for specialized incidents, nor the number of these incidents to ensure effective treatment here in Cyprus.”

Damianos said that in 2023, 1,523 cases were referred, in 2022, 1,255 cases, in 2021, 1,000 cases and in 2020, 1,014.

These referrals, he added, concern university clinics and reference centers in Germany, in Israel mainly for neonatal cardiac surgery and other serious cases and burns, in France and England mainly for liver transplants, in Belgium, Sweden and hospitals in Greece including the Onassis Center for lung transplants.

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