By Jean Christou
SENIOR citizens appealed to the state for decent living conditions and the restoration of lost benefits yesterday in a resolution they passed during the 16th annual Parliament of Elders at the House of Representatives.
The session was held under the title: ‘How the economic crisis affects the standard of living of the elderly’.
They asked for measures to ensure a decent living, the restoration of pension reductions and the special allowance, the anticipation of problems faced by the elderly in refugee housing, non-taxation on property for those on a low income, exemption from hospital fees for those on a low pension or living below the poverty line, a reduction in patient waiting lists, lower medicine prices and better bus transportation to hospitals.
Stavros Olympios, president of the Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council and the Coordinating Body for the Elders Parliament issued a plea to officials who were present to take on board their issues.
“The elderly should be a point of reference for us to regain our previous place in the world,” he said.
Among addresses to the session were those of House President Yiannakis Omirou, Health minister Philippos Patsalis and Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou, whose speech was delivered by the ministry’s permanent secretary Andreas Assiotis.
He said a new law was in the works, which would amend existing legislation on housing for the elderly and the disabled that would set minimum operating standards.
He also said the main issues concerning the elderly were included in the National Plan of Action for Older People which was a commitment of the state in the welfare of the elderly.
The key principle underpinning the plan is the provision of flexible quality care services that aims to strengthen the autonomy and independence of seniors.
“Current elder care facilities will be adapted to new and real needs of elderly people,” he said.
Promises were also made by Patsalis that the new national health scheme effective from July 1, 2015, would balance inequalities in the system “which have mainly affected vulnerable groups like the elderly”. The current setup, he said, was too weak to meet the challenges of the new NHS.
“Without modernising the system, it [the NHS] will not be able to work properly and the public will continue to suffer because of inefficient structures,” Patsalis said. “This dysfunctionality must be changed and changed radically.”