For us, today’s modest event is a way to express our sincere gratitude to the medical, nursing and other staff in the health sector. Without their own tireless and selfless efforts, risking their health, almost abandoning their own families, it would not be possible to address the situation with the pandemic.
Our gratitude is not limited to applause on the balconies, handshakes and empty talk. Our own gratitude has been expressed for decades in AKEL’s strong stand in favour of public health and its workers and professionals, a gratitude expressed both in and outside of Parliament.
The pandemic we are going through brought to the surface problems that the Anastasiades-DISY government allowed to mount. It implemented the dogmatic policy pursued by most right-wing governments on the recommendations of the European Union for “less state” in the health sector as well.
The pandemic highlighted in the most tragic way the crucial importance for every society central planning and universal rights have and how much value they have to be put over profits.
While we all stressed that public hospitals must constitute the backbone of the National Health Scheme (NHS), the policies pursued by the Anastasiades-DISY Government have had the opposite effect. The sharp decline in funding for the public health sector has led to medical staff leaving the sector, resulting in the serious understaffing of public hospitals.
Having lived the experience of the pandemic and the many problems that were caused by the understaffing of public hospitals and other weaknesses, we believe that it is imperative that precautionary measures are taken to prevent such problems form recurring.
These measures must include:
- The upgrading public hospitals
- The rapid expansion of the number of beds and the creation of new emergency clinics in every public hospital
- Adequate funding
- Sufficient equipment and consumables
- Full staffing based on the agreed structure
- Improved working conditions in public hospitals
- The formation of appealing employment packages to attract medical staff
With the pandemic crisis, the problems were revealed and there is no room for any delay in addressing them. It is the Government’s duty to proceed to specific actions.
- To ensure adequate resources for Health.
- To reflect on the situation and the many problems identified with regards the operation of the state health services (OKYPY), its inadequacy and delaying tactics in addressing the pandemic.
- To rapidly promote the completion of a comprehensive action plan to address the pandemic by all health care providers with degrees of involvement of doctors/nurses/other services with provision and planning from the best to the worst case scenario.
- To record the needs for consumables, equipment and staff for each possible scenario.
- To strengthen the operation of the Emergency Case Departments, training and development of staff.
- To create Intensive Care Units in all hospitals and to increase the number of beds of the Intensive Care Unit and the Increased Care Unit with the simultaneous recruitment of the necessary medical/nursing staff.
- To protect healthcare professionals belonging to vulnerable groups.
This is part of our comprehensive proposal submitted to the Government on the health sector. Their implementation will give substance to a sincere “thank you” to the people who fought despite all the difficulties to protect society from the dangers of the pandemic, to support, help and care for patients.
The current tragic situation reminds us that our society must be a society based on solidarity. It strengthens AKEL’s long-standing position that health cannot and must not be seen as a commodity. Health and the right to life are non-negotiable and we will continue to struggle for them alongside on the side of health professionals.
We also express our sincere thanks to musician Koulis Theodorou for his participation in this modest event.