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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-10-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, October 12, 2001


  • [01] Drugs still cost three times more than in the UK
  • [02] Limassol heart chief slams 'do nothing'health ministry
  • [03] Hoteliers appeal to government as crisis bites: 'we need help, and we need it now'
  • [04] Stiff penalties planned under new anti-terror bill
  • [05] Shares nudge upwards
  • [06] 'Nikiforos' to go ahead as planned
  • [07] Racism in the EU 'may get worse after attacks on US'
  • [08] Not a drop to spare
  • [09] Bid to cut road accidents and deaths by a fifth

  • [01] Drugs still cost three times more than in the UK

    By Jennie Matthew

    DRUG prices are still up to three times more expensive in Cyprus than abroad, despite promises by Health Minister Frixos Savvides that prices would be halved by October 2000.

    Patients'Associations accuse the government of failing to act quickly enough to bring prices into line with those in Greece and the UK.

    Savvides promised that when the monopoly on pharmaceutical imports was liberalised, the government would review pricing. The law changed in May 2001, but drugs still cost the same.

    The government yesterday seemed less keen than in the past to tackle the issue.

    Savvides said last year that liberalisation would halve prices. In March he modified that to "dramatic"price cuts for common drugs and less significant drops for patented medicines.

    "The new pricing committee may reconsider profit margins for wholesalers and retailers,"said a civil servant yesterday.

    Private pharmacists have been calling for a prescription fee for some time. The government yesterday agreed that a fee might be introduced gradually, if costs are unified in euros throughout the EU.

    The new Drugs Council was only appointed two weeks ago. Its first meeting is next week, and a Pricing Committee has yet to be appointed.

    The Pancyprian Patients'Association wrote to Savvides on Monday, reminding him that Cypriots pay more than double what patients pay in Greece, and up to three times of the cost in Britain.

    The President of the Association, Pavlos Dinglis, claims that the British National Formulary, last revised in March 2001, makes the majority of drugs 25 to 53 per cent cheaper in Britain than in Cyprus. In some cases, they are up to 400 per cent cheaper.

    But the Health Ministry was yesterday quick to minimise the price differences between the Cypriot and European market.

    One source said liberalisation in Greece had unblocked years of price freezing, making some drugs suddenly much more expensive.

    Another pointed out that UK patients are charged an extra 5 per prescription, altering the figures quoted by the Association.

    Yet they failed to point out that children under 18, those in full-time education and pensioners -by far the biggest single group of medication users -do not pay the fee at all.

    "There is room for improvement. But we are an importing country, so you have to add in transport costs, exchange rates, importers and retail margins,"said a source.

    The new Pricing Committee should be in place by November. Its members will be drawn from the Pharmaceutical Service, the private sector, the Consumers'and Importers'Associations, the Ministries of Trade, Finance and Health, plus the industry itself.

    But there is likely to be some haggling over how and by how much to revise prices.

    "I believe that the downward revision of prices is a must. It is up to the Minister of Health and the Council of Ministers to solve this problem. It would be absurd to increase prices and I can see no reason for it. Profit margins are large enough to absorb transport costs,"Dinglis said.

    "Neither prescription fees nor state subsidisation is the answer. The whole system of price regulation must be revised."

    Only current and former civil servants, MPs, Ministers, certain categories of patients and Cypriot nationals with an income under 10,000 a year currently qualify for free drugs in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Limassol heart chief slams 'do nothing'health ministry

    By Melina Demetriou

    HEART PATIENTS sometimes die because there is only one cardiograph machine in Cyprus, Limassol General Hospital's cardiology chief Dr Michalis Mina charged yesterday.

    After a meeting of the House Health Committee on the hospital's problems, Mina lashed out at the Health Ministry, accusing it of ignoring the department's weaknesses "for more than five years".

    The ministry says it has plans to improve the situation.

    Mina said there is no cardiograph machine in his department at Limassol. "So patients from all over Cyprus are put on a 12-month waiting list to be examined in the Nicosia Hospital, which does have such a machine. People are afraid to spell it out -- but some patients with serious conditions die on the waiting list."

    He also said that his department is unable to treat some patients properly because it does not have an intensive care unit. "We cannot treat thrombosis cases because we don't have the necessary equipment,"he said. "And we can't really treat serious heart attacks because we don't have an intensive care unit."

    Mina noted that heart attacks are the number one cause of death in Cyprus.

    The busiest department at Limassol hospital only had 20 beds for inpatients while there were 120 beds in the hospital which have never been used, Mina alleged.

    "We have no other choice but to put many of our inpatients in other units, sometimes in the casualty department. Some of them need to be treated immediately, but instead they spend days and nights on trolley beds at the ER,"he said.

    The cardiology department's director also charged that some inpatients with heart conditions were put in rooms with other patients suffering from infections.

    "As if they don't have enough problems they catch diseases from other patients, such as pneumonia,"he complained.

    Mina charged that his department asked the Health Ministry six years ago to address its problems "but they have done nothing so far".

    But Health Minister Frixos Savvides dismissed the accusations after Mina left the House."I think it is absolutely unnecessary for hospital officials to make this sort of statement,"he said. "We have already decided that there should be an intensive care unit at the department and to buy a cardiograph machine, and now we are thinking of ways to speed up the procedures to implement these decisions."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Hoteliers appeal to government as crisis bites: 'we need help, and we need it now'

    By Jean Christou

    HOTELIERS yesterday joined the tourism sector's plea for help as the industry crisis deepens in the wake of the US-led attacks on Afghanistan.

    The Hoteliers'Association said a survey of its members showed the situation regarding cancellations and bookings was "getting worse by the day".

    &lt;br&gt; "Our information also shows that tour operators have already gone ahead with reducing or cancelling some of their winter programmes to Cyprus, and reducing their summer capacity,"the association said.&lt;br&gt;

    The hoteliers are now calling on the government to take immediate decisions to ensure the situation doesn't worsen even further.

    &lt;br&gt; "Because of the critical situation, hoteliers await the immediate and positive response of the cabinet so that their measures are made known to our associates abroad,"the association said.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis on Wednesday asked the cabinet for an additional 7 million to counter the growing crisis. The cash would be used to boost existing incentives for winter tourism.

    Rolandis also submitted a plan of action to the cabinet on Wednesday, but refused to reveal its contents publicly.

    A decision would be reached at the next cabinet session on October 17, he said.

    Tourism, which had been showing record numbers for 2001, began its downward trend in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Reports from the UK said bookings for next year had already dropped 50 per cent, and that bookings for the next few months had come to a standstill as the public wait to see the outcome of US attempts to capture Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks.

    The launch of the military assault on Afghanistan by the US and Britain last Sunday has put an end to hopes that the industry might quickly bounce back.

    The government estimates that although 2001 will not be a loss-making year for tourism, the figures will not reach their projected target. Cyprus had expected to see three million tourists this year, but officials now believe the final figure will be the same as last year -- 2.7 million. Revenue is also expected to remain unchanged at 1.2 billion.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Stiff penalties planned under new anti-terror bill

    By George Psyllides

    PEOPLE found guilty under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism could face life imprisonment or a 2 million fine or both, according to a bill submitted before the House yesterday.

    The bill, which ratifies the International Convention, was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday and submitted to the House of Representatives yesterday by Attorney-general Alecos Markides. It will be discussed in the plenum next Thursday.

    Markides tried to allay fears that the bill would limit basic freedoms, saying that it essentially extended current legislation on financial crime to the financing of terrorism.

    In other words the government's authority to investigate bank accounts or other confidential documents and freeze or confiscate assets would, upon passage of the law, include physical persons or organisations suspected of funding terrorism.

    Article 21 of the convention states: " Nothing in this Convention shall affect other rights, obligations and responsibilities of States and individuals under international law, in particular the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and other relevant conventions."

    The bill also provides for the formation of a special anti-terrorist unit, which would be modelled on the existing financial crime fighting unit.

    The two units would, if necessary, work in conjunction and co-operate with other international crime-fighting agencies.

    Article 2 of the convention stipulates the circumstances under which a person can be persecuted for financing terrorist acts: "if the person by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and wilfully, provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking as active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act."

    Under the law suspects cannot defend themselves in court by justifying their actions as being motivated by political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious, or other similar reasons.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Shares nudge upwards

    CYPRUS shares took their cue from European markets and Nasdaq to rise 1.12 per cent yesterday as unsettled investors looked abroad for guidance in the absence of any at home.

    The benchmark all share index climbed 1.2 points to 108.64 with turnover rising from Wednesday's 1.7 million 30-month low to 2.6 million. The narrower FTSE/CySE 20 index rose 1.29 per cent to 450.28 points.

    "Things were a little better today because of the improvement on international markets, especially the US," said Marios Mavrides at Citi Principal Investments.

    "Lately we have been following these markets more closely than before... when markets overseas rise it is interpreted by investors that things are better than they think and that tourism won't be affected as much," he said.

    New tourist bookings have stalled in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, which occurred just after the domestic tourist season started to wind down.Tourism shares were up 4.28 per cent and hotel stocks 3.2 per cent, recouping from recent lows.

    Sentiment was still very vulnerable over the outlook for arrivals and that a long crisis may lie ahead, said Mavrides.

    Banking shares rose 1.21 per cent from a two cent gain for Laiki to 1.32 and one cent for Hellenic to 76 cents.

    Advancing shares beat declining ones 79 to 52 with 14 unchanged on 145 traded. There were 3,233 deals. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] 'Nikiforos' to go ahead as planned

    NATIONAL Guard Commander Charilaos Florakis said yesterday that the army will go ahead on October 16-21 with the annual 'Nikiforos' exercise using its own naval and air forces.

    Nikiforos is usually been carried out in conjunction with Greece's 'Toxotis' exercise, but this year Athens decided to postpone the manoeuvres because of the international crisis and the subsequent increased air traffic in the area.

    Florakis told a news conference yesterday that the exercise would only be affected on a technical level.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said that Toxotis' postponement did not affect Nikiforos or the Joint Defence Dogma between Greece and Cyprus.

    The situation in the greater area may have forced Toxotis to be delayed, but in no way would it be cancelled, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Racism in the EU 'may get worse after attacks on US'

    ACCORDING to the organisers of a weekend conference in Nicosia, the problems of racism and xenophobia will worsen with the enlargement of the European Union.

    The three-day international workshop on racism and xenophobia, which opens tomorrow, has

    attracted around 30 academics from ten countries with its theme 'Enlargement of the European Union and Anti-Racism'.

    The Nicosia workshop will focus on the consequences for the candidate countries as well as strategies for facing the problem, the role of the mass media and the role of the state.

    Organisers say the conference is even more crucial since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, which has resulted in a significant increase in race-related attacks against Muslims and those of Arabic origin.

    The conference is at the Cleopatra Hotel today and at Intercollege tomorrow and Sunday. It is open to the public.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Not a drop to spare

    ACCORDING to the latest statistics the island's reservoirs are 91.6 per cent empty and only contain some 23 million cubic metres of water.

    The reservoirs with the most water are at Vizakia and Xyliatosin the Nicosia district: these are almost half full. Arminou dam in the Limassol district is 38 per cent full.

    In terms of overall volume Kouris dam contains the most water at the moment, at seven million cubic metres. The reservoir has a capacity of 115 million cubic metres.

    The figures show that all households had a continuous water supplythis summer, compared with just 70 per cent last year. Continuous water supply was introduced at the beginning of the year.

    Water for agricultural use constituted 34 per cent last year of all water supplied, compared with 48 per cent this year.

    Government figures set the average water consumption for the island at 150 litres per head per day, but Cypriots are using 160 litres each a day.The new Larnaca desalination plant, which went online this summer, has boosted supplies and enabled the government to abolish water cuts.

    The plant produces around 40,000 cubic metres a day.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Bid to cut road accidents and deaths by a fifth

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE government is aiming to reduce road accidents and deaths by 20 per cent over the next five years.

    Communication and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday chaired a Road Safety Committee meeting at which Professor Georgios Kanellaides, from the Ethnic Metsovio Polytechnic, presented a strategic plan for road safety in Cyprus.

    According to Neophytou, the government views road safety as one of its priorities since Cyprus has one of the worst records of road accidents and deaths in Europe.

    " Most European countries have shown a decrease of 30 per cent in road deaths, some even show a 48 per cent decrease, over the past 20 years,"said Neophytou. " Unfortunately, Cyprus has shown an increase of 31 per cent in road deaths."

    The strategic plan will concentrate on the roads' environment, policing, drivers and their behaviour, cars and the immediate response to scenes of road accidents.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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