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26 June, 2024
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Health Ministry: Newly arrived migrants in Cyprus are fully screened

New arrivals of immigrants in Cyprus are immediately tested for infectious diseases, mainly AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis

Panayiotis Rougalas

Panayiotis Rougalas

The Ministry of Health is conducting all necessary examinations on newly arrived immigrants in the country, according to Health Minister Michael Hadjipantelas.

During the presentation of the Ministry of Health's Budget for 2023, the Health Minister referred to Director of Medical Services Elizabeth Constantinou to provide details on the handling of communicable diseases among newly arrived immigrants in the country.

The MPs' question came in response to Interior Minister Nikos Nouri's false statement last week that 1,100 residents of the Pournara migrant accommodation center were AIDS positive and 800 had tuberculosis. These figures were obviously incorrect, and the Minister attempted to refute them a few hours later, claiming that they had been incorrectly repeated by state radio, where he had said them.

Constantinou noted that the hospitality center "Pournara" is a center of the first admission to the country and is being used as a temporary residence for immigrants, and those who enter the country illegally, stay in the center for a short period of time.  She then noted the incorrect statistics mentioned last week by the Minister of Interior and moved on to the Finance Committee and presentation of the budget of the Ministry of Health. According to Constantinou, "Once they are received, they are immediately tested for infectious diseases that are prevalent in these populations, primarily for AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, and they are also immunized, not only for COVID-19 but also for the other diseases depending on their age."

If these people are diagnosed with diseases or require additional testing or care, they are referred to OKYPY departments, where they receive the same treatment as Cypriot citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. "If they need to be treated, they stay, and if they need to be treated outside of the hospital, that is also done; this does not mean that everyone who needs treatment must be admitted to a hospital," he explained. "Populations from Sub-Saharan African countries have an increased risk of suffering from a combination of infectious diseases, so as flows increase, positive cases will increase," Constantinou said, adding that "one-third of the cases that we are newly diagnosing are coming from these destinations."

MPs in the Finance Committee at the time emphasized the importance of the ministry providing accurate numbers so that there are no more false statements and headlines pointing elsewhere. The Ministry reserved the right to provide the Committee with specific figures on infectious diseases in Cyprus.

The budget of the Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health's budget for 2023 accounts for 11% (2022: 14.8%) of the total State Budget for 2023. Total expenditure is budgeted at €1.1 billion (€1 billion in 2022), a 5% increase from 2022. The regular budget expenditure is €1.13 billion, while the development expenditure is €7.16 million. The total revenue is estimated to be 293 million, of which 266 million, or 90%, is related to the remuneration of staff seconded to the State Health Services Agency. The most significant increase, 77.8 million, is dedicated to the General Government Contribution of the State to the GHS (2022: 435 million).

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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