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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-02

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, June 2, 2000


  • [01] Malaria once again threatens Cyprus
  • [02] ‘Psychotic prisoners being drugged, not treated’
  • [03] UN report notes easing of buffer zone tensions
  • [04] Government angry at Annan rebuke over missing
  • [05] Investors shrug off Moody’s warnings
  • [06] Aids figures fall
  • [07] Mobile Desalination plan at risk from sceptical MPs

  • [01] Malaria once again threatens Cyprus

    By Anthony O. Miller

    DESPITE its eradication from Cyprus in 1955, malaria, which kills 1 million people worldwide each year, threatens the island again because of a resurgence in Turkey, a top public health official said yesterday.

    Perhaps more alarming still is a World Health Organisation (WHO) report warning that "malaria is taking hold again in Europe's mosquitoes," threatening Europe with "a serious risk of an uncontrollable resurgence of malaria".

    "In the 1940s, thousands in Cyprus had malaria," Public Health Service Director Sophocles Anthousis told the Cyprus Mail.

    Then in the 1950s, the island's British colonial rulers blanketed it with the now-banned (but very effective mosquito-killing) pesticide, DDT, he said.

    Turkey, too, was once rife with malaria, but by 1971 had all but wiped it out, thanks to the WHO's global malaria eradication programme.

    However, massive irrigation of Turkey's Adana-Cukorova plain provided fecund breeding ground for Anopheles mosquitoes, the carriers of malaria, and the disease soared to 100,000 cases by 1977, a recent WHO report noted.

    After temporarily subsiding, malaria once again raged in south-eastern Turkey due to construction of one of the world's largest hydroelectric power projects, involving 13 dams and irrigation of 1.7 million hectares of land, WHO noted.

    This project and social changes in the region "have contributed to the increased risk of malaria now facing Turkey," the WHO report said.

    The settling in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus of both mainland Turkish peasants and Turkey's occupation army of some 40,000 soldiers worries Anthousis, as some of these could be carrying malaria.

    "We are looking at the Turkish soldiers, especially if they come from (parts of the) mainland where they have malaria," he said.

    For this reason, he said, Public Health officers regularly spray any stagnant water found along the UN Buffer Zone to kill off any breeding mosquitoes.

    "We are doing this with the co-operation of professionals from the northern side," Anthousis said, adding his teams used an "insecticide friendly to the environment... that was suggested to us by the WHO."

    The insecticide not only kills malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes, but it renders them sterile, thus incapable of reproduction, Anthousis said.

    Not only is malaria an actual problem in Turkey, and a potential problem in Cyprus, but the WHO warned that "the risk for the reappearance of the disease in some areas of Southern Europe... is real."

    "Europe faces ‘a serious risk of an uncontrollable resurgence of malaria’," the WHO report said, due in part to the "migration of refugees, a massive increase... in irrigation canals where mosquitoes can breed" and the collapse of East-Bloc public health programmes when communism fell.

    Population movements, including migrant workers and the constant increase in international travel only raise the risk level, the WHO said.

    Additionally, global warming now lets insects once incapable of surviving in the relatively cooler European climates migrate there and thrive, bringing with them the diseases they readily transmit to humans.

    So far, there is no cure for malaria, and the cheapest drug for it, chloroquine - is fast becoming ineffective. In some countries, malaria strains have grown immune to the four leading antimalarial drugs.

    Curiously, while Cyprus once was rife -- and remains threatened -- with a resurgence of malaria, two genetically transmitted blood diseases native to the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region - thalassaemia and sickle- cell anaemia -- provide a sort of natural "immunity" to malaria, Dr Michael Angastiniotis, of Makarios Hospital, said.

    Nonetheless, he too expressed concern that "with travel today what it is, it is possible for it to come back" as virulently as before the British bathed the island in DDT.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [02] ‘Psychotic prisoners being drugged, not treated’

    By Martin Hellicar

    CENTRAL prison inmates facing psychiatric problems are routinely drugged rather than being given proper care, Ombudswoman Eleina Nicolaou claimed yesterday.

    "Prisoners are given drugs to control their behaviour, they are not helped to develop their abilities or given modern care," Nicolaou told an afternoon news conference.

    Some 20 prisoners at the Nicosia prison are currently being given psychoactive drugs. Specific reference was made to three of these, defined by doctors as psychotic.

    The behaviour of one of these patients is described in Nicolaou’s report, released yesterday: "the convict has injured himself many times, wonders around the prison naked, has tendencies towards self-mutilation and suicide and is aggressive towards fellow-inmates".

    The Ombudswoman called for urgent government action to right the situation.

    "If the situation continues, then the human rights of these prisoners will be being violated," Nicolaou said.

    Nicolaou presented the grim findings of her office's probe into the standard of medical care provided for prisoners on the island. The investigation is the first the department - which usually looks into citizen's complaints - has carried out off its own bat.

    Nicolaou said the probe had found "serious problems in the treatment of prisoners with psychiatric problems and of inmates in general".

    She said the problem was nothing new and had been repeatedly brought to the attention of both the Health and Justice Ministries. "The Ministries have worked on it but few or no steps have been taken," Nicolaou said.

    A 1997 law gives courts the right to incarcerate persons with psychiatric problems in facilities equipped and staffed to treat their condition. Nicolaou said such facilities had never been created (partly because the Health and Justice Ministries could not agree whose responsibility this was) but persons with psychiatric problems were nonetheless being put behind bars.

    "In reality, people with psychiatric problems simply stay in the central prisons with no special help," Nicolaou stated.

    She added that medical care for other inmates also failed to meet minimum standards. "There is no general pathologist covering the prison on a daily basis, no substitute doctor for when the prison doctor is away and no qualified nurse."

    She also noted that young offenders were often incarcerated with hardened criminals.

    The report stressed that the three patients singled out by the report should be given proper psychiatric care while behind bars.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [03] UN report notes easing of buffer zone tensions

    By Jean Christou

    THE U.N. said yesterday there had been a significant reduction in the number of incidents along the buffer zone, but it remains concerned over occasional threats against peacekeepers.

    According to the Secretary-general’s six-monthly report renewing Unficyp’s mandate, released yesterday, the situation along the Green Line remains stable, but soldiers from both sides continue to harass peacekeepers by cocking and aiming weapons at UN patrols.

    Air violations of the buffer zone increased in the past six months, Secretary-general Kofi Annan’s report also said. Nine overflights by Turkish military aircraft and two by civilian aircraft from the north were recorded.

    Six overflights by National Guard and Cyprus police aircraft and 11 by civilian aircraft from the south were also recorded.

    The reference by Annan to the forces on both sides in the same breath angered the government yesterday.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said: "Under no circumstances can the exercises of the National Guard be judged on an equal footing with the military manoeuvres of the illegal occupation army."

    Annan was pleased with the recent increase in bicommunal contacts. He said they are an important factor in improving the political climate on the island.

    There was also a reference to Wednesday night’s televised discussion from the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel, between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists and their counterparts from Greece and Turkey, and with the participation of foreign diplomats.

    Former UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel flew to the island especially for the discussion, while video footage of other foreign diplomats involved in the Cyprus issue was beamed in.

    Feissel called on both sides to discuss core elements of the Cyprus problem and move away from the emotional issues of the past, while envoys such as Britain’s Sir David Hannay and US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses sent messages of support.

    Sir David is due to visit the island next week while Moses is expected around June 20.

    Alvaro de Soto, Annan’s special representative will be in Cyprus on June 18, instead of June 16, as originally planned. He is due to meet President Clerides on June 19 before leaving on June 20.

    The influx of foreign diplomats is designed to lay the groundwork for the resumption of UN-led proximity talks in Geneva on July 5. Two rounds of talks have already taken place.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [04] Government angry at Annan rebuke over missing

    By Jean Christou

    UN SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan’s announcement that he will not appoint a third member to the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) until the two sides show a genuine commitment to the issue has riled the government.

    Annan made the comment in his six-monthly report renewing Unficyp’s mandate, which was released in New York on Wednesday night.

    "Before agreeing to a new appointment it would be important to ensure that the obstacles that have impeded the investigative work of the committee had been removed and that both sides had shown a genuine commitment to reaching a consensus," the report said.

    Jean-Pierre Ritter, the UN’s-appointed member of the tri-partite CMP, died suddenly in January.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that Annan had obviously not taken into account the government’s efforts to resolve the missing issue nor the failed July 1997 agreement on the exchange of information between the two sides.

    "This reference is not fair to our side and completely overlooks the July 1997 agreement," Papapetrou said. "We do not agree with it and we will be consulting with the UN."

    Ritter was appointed last year. The UN had left the position vacant for more than three years, citing similar reasons to those invoked by Annan this week.

    Annan’s report said all the conditions had not been fulfilled, but the government is angry because of the efforts it has put into resolving the missing persons issue in recent months. A project involving the exhumation of remains from two Nicosia cemeteries, which began last year, has already identified several people, who had been listed as missing.

    The 1997 agreement failed because the Turkish Cypriot side claimed the number of 1,619 missing was inflated with names of national guardsmen who died in the coup, not the invasion. The government denies this, but has promised to publish a full list of missing persons by the end of this month.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [05] Investors shrug off Moody’s warnings

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARE prices ended in marginal retreat yesterday as a firmer open was trimmed by blue-chip banking shares weighing down on the market, ending with across the board declines of 0.14 per cent.

    Banks propped the market up at its open of 536.22 points, but the gains were short-lived. The all-share CSE index moved within a band of 538.89 and 533.37, and with traded values edging up slightly to £44.6 million.

    Banking shares kick-started a firmer start when the sector opened with a five point jump from Wednesday's close. It edged another two points higher but buying later died down, closing with daily losses of 0.3 per cent.

    Hellenic, which registered a high turnover of 1.2 million shares, kept hold of its opening gains with a seven cent advance to £3.17, while Bank of Cyprus see-sawed between a high of £8.86 and a low of £8.70 before closing at £8.71, a daily loss of nine cents.

    Banking stocks were still very much in investors' sights, traders said. "Interest in Laiki and Bank of Cyprus is now spilling over to Hellenic, all three banks usually follow the same track. The price of the shares is considered quite low," said trader Katia Constantinidou of Severis and Athienitis.

    Investors either shrugged off, or were unaware of Moody's placing all three banks on a negative outlook on Wednesday.

    The financial ratings are C for Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, and D+ for Hellenic.

    Moody's switch in outlook followed its earlier change to negative in outlook for the country ceilings of Cyprus, citing worsening macroeconomic trends.

    In shifting its outlook for the banks, the agency said the view had partly been based on the growing challenges the banks are expected to face domestically as a result of financial and economic liberalisation measures Cyprus needs to take in preparation of EU membership.

    Although the banks declared bumper profits for 1999 by riding the boom in the local capital markets, systematic banking risks have risen considerably since the ratings were first assigned.

    Moody's said it was particularly concerned about the notable tightening in market liquidity levels and the continued rapid growth of credit to private individuals.

    Credit grew by 35.9 per cent during 1999 and another 10.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2000, in spite of a yearly target of 13 per cent.

    Last week the Central Bank took tight measures to ensure that its liquidity guidelines are kept. It includes an obligation of banks to raise their minimum reserve requirements by one point to eight per cent -- a level unseen since 1996, when the Central Bank introduced financial instruments that were designed to guide liquidity and steer interest rate policies.

    But with a nine per cent ceiling still imposed on interest rates, private economists have argued that the instruments have not been very effective.

    In the rest of the market, Europrofit led net gains on the market with a 17.5 per cent climb, or 48 cent rise to a last trade of £3.16. The stock has soared since its debut on Wednesday, when CLR Investment made known that it planned to launch a public bid to acquire 51 per cent of the company.

    CLR said then it would offer £1.41 for each Europrofit share.

    Small cap Dodoni and Frindlays dominated turnover with 5.1 million shares and 3.1 million shares changing hands. Frindlays scored one of its highest advances this year with an eight cent jump to 44.7 cents, while Dodoni were up two cents to a last trade of 28.3. "There is strong interest in small cap shares at the moment because of a perception they could be targets for other companies seeking a listing vehicle for the market. The trend is reinforced by the considerable delays in processing applications by companies seeking listings," said George Trypatsas of Landmark Securities. said yesterday it had clinched a £1.5 million sterling software development contract from Britain's Hotelworld.

    The company said the project would involve the development of an online hotel bookings system for the British group.

    Globalsoft said the project had immense potential because of the prospect of Hotelworld expanding into the massive China market.

    Logicom said yesterday it was in agreement to acquire Lebanon's CCS International for $270,000.

    The local dealer of brand names like Intel, Microsoft, CISCO Systems, IBM and Microsoft said the takeover would further expansion prospects in the Middle East Markets. It also planned expansions in Greece, it said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [06] Aids figures fall

    THE NUMBER of Aids sufferers in Cyprus has fallen dramatically in recent years, with patients down to 336, representatives of an Aids clinic told the House Health Committee yesterday.

    Aids carers credited greater awareness of the dangers of Aids for the fall.

    In 1994, 39 people developed full-blown Aids, 29 Cypriots and 10 foreigners, while in 1997, the total number fell to 27, 15 Cypriots and 12 foreigners.

    Today the total figure stands at just 11, seven foreigners and four Cypriots.

    A total of 336 people in Cyprus are HIV-positive, almost 200 of whom are locals.

    The clinic's representatives said the amount of government money allocated to patients' treatment was not enough to cover all their needs, be they medical or other.

    With proper treatment, patients could have a normal life and their life span could be prolonged by many years but the £600,000 given by the government was not enough, they said.

    The committee agreed that there was an urgent need for the government to allocate more money for patient care.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, June 2, 2000

    [07] Mobile Desalination plan at risk from sceptical MPs

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE of Representatives appears to be gearing up to oppose government plans to involve itself with mobile desalination units - this time at Moni, according to testimony yesterday before the Agriculture Committee.

    The Agriculture Ministry had sought House consent to moor a desalination ship off the coast of Moni, outside Limassol, that would begin pumping water by no later than December 2000.

    But some deputies dismissed the Moni plan as a waste of money and suggested instead going ahead with a proposed permanent desalting unit at the site of the Vassiliko power plant that might be completed by August 2001.

    Other deputies said the proposed Vassiliko unit would not be ready in time to provide the island with water through the entire summer - something the Cyprus Electricity Authority's (EAC) representatives at the Agriculture Committee meeting confirmed.

    The House has already killed government plans to erect two mobile desalination plants this summer - one outside Zakaki, the other outside Ayios Theodoros.

    "The House Committee has concluded that the government's plan to build a mobile unit (at Moni) would be unnecessary and against people's interest, as they would have to spend almost a pound for a bottle of water," committee chairman Christos Mavrokordatos told the Cyprus Mail after the meeting.

    "Whereas the desalination units -- one already existing in Dhekelia and the one to be ready in Larnaca by December -- will cover needs of up to 100,000 tonnes of water per day in the summer period. A bottle of water coming from those units will only cost 28 or 30 cents," Mavrokordatos said.

    As things appear now, any desalination unit erected at the Vassiliko power plant site would add another 40,000 cubic metres of water to the island's daily desalination output, the committee heard.

    And the winter water supply would be more than enough without an extra, mobile unit, said Mavrokordatos and other deputies, since the island's water needs do not exceed 70,000 tonnes of water a day during winter.

    Contrary to this estimate, Nicos Tsiourtis, Water Development Department chief engineer told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that Cyprus needed about 160,000 cubic metres of water daily in winter, and nearly 200,000 cubic metres of water daily during an average summer.

    The Agriculture Ministry's director-general, who was present at the meeting, said: "We want to supply people with water at any time of the day. We do not want to take any risks. The year 1999 was the driest in many years and the shortage was severe."

    "The Vassiliko unit is expected to be up and running not before the end of July 2001, possibly not before the end of that August," he said. "That will leave us with a shortage of 20,000 tonnes of water for most of the summer period."

    "The shortage can be covered by water provided by a mobile unit to be ready in four months time, and which does not have to be maintained indefinitely, " the director-general argued.

    Mavrokordatos said the parties, taking into account the Agriculture Committee's findings, would position themselves on the matter, deciding whether to give the Agriculture Ministry the authority to go ahead with its plans.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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