Health minister Giorgos Pamboridis on Monday thanked political party leaders for their support in his efforts to introduce the national health system (Gesy) and apologised to them if he had crossed the line of political decency.
Days before last Friday’s House plenum vote, in which two government bills paving the way for the introduction of Gesy in 2019 were passed, Pamboridis caused a political firestorm by tweeting that an unnamed political leader – whom he branded “Judas” – had agreed to help scupper the planned reform.
His tweet prompted a frantic witch-hunt for the leader in question and criticism from Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos and Edek’s Marinos Sizopoulos, whom rumours – but never Pamboridis – had named as the guilty parties.
The government bills were voted into law unanimously on Friday.
On Monday, the health minister welcomed the passing of the bills, after “100 weeks of studying, planning, contacts, reflection, negotiations, conflicts, disappointments, deliberations, convergences and hard work”.
“We went through a lot, but using persuasion and the righteousness of the cause, we were able to have the basic pillars of this reform passed,” he said.
“With Gesy, all Cypriots will be eligible, without exception. Every citizen will be entitled to free and full medical and pharmaceutical coverage for any and all needs, from birth and for their entire lifetime.”
Although legislating universal health coverage in 2001, Pamboridis said, the state failed to give the Cypriot citizen what every European citizen enjoys.
“With the approval of this reform, a start is made in cleaning this stain,” he said.
“We will all be patients at one time, at least once. No one should ever have to save for their treatment, or beg to have it covered. We give every citizen the respect they deserve.”
Pamboridis thanked stakeholders for their “responsible stance and constructive contribution” and the political parties for their responsible support.
“Please also allow me to address the political leaders in particular, and ask for their forgiveness if, in my effort to see this long effort completed successfully, they felt I had crossed the bounds of political decency,” Pamboridis said.
“This was never my intention. Political decency is a life attitude for me, and my focus in serving the public is absolute. After all, we all serve the public.”
He also thanked President Nicos Anastasiades without whose “support, guidance, and determination”, the progress made would have been impossible.
Pamboridis pledged that following the passing of the Gesy bills “as of tomorrow” the ministry will focus on solving the day-to-day problems of both healthcare professionals and patients.