Parents should be allowed to be by the side of their children during routine medical examinations in public hospitals, Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said on Monday.
Koursoumba was called to participate in the House human rights committee meeting to discuss parents’ demands that they be allowed to be present during examinations of their children.
An online petition was launched by a group called ‘Attachment parenting, Mamades stin Kypro (Mothers in Cyprus)’, and it is addressed to the health minister, the children’s rights commissioner, and the House health committee.
“Many parents, at times of medical needs, were forced, despite their opposition, to leave the side of their child with the excuse of an internal rule, which has never been presented in writing to anyone,” the petition said.
The committee discussed the possibility of a policy change on behalf of the health ministry.
The general rule, Koursoumba said, based on children’s rights conventions, is that children, especially until the age of seven, should have their parents by their side.
“This helps children overcome the anxiety, which was scientifically proven they experience during such examinations, and be able to make this experience as painless as possible,” she said.
She added that exceptions may apply if the doctor deems that for a number of reasons parents should not be present, for example, if they act in such a way which hinders doctors from performing their duties.
Koursoumba said that the health ministry ought to give guidelines in writing which should be given to parents so that they know the rules.
The head of the committee, Stella Kyriakidou, stressed the need for a protocol which will stipulate when parents or guardians should be allowed to be present during children’s examinations, and when not.
Kyriakidou said that the European Council has laid down guidelines for a child-friendly healthcare, which “stipulate clearly what needs to be done when a child visits any hospital”.
She added that the World Health Organisation also encourages the presence of parents during routine medical examinations of their children, which is being followed by hospitals abroad and by private hospitals in Cyprus.
The discussion is to continue next week, Kyriakidou said, in the presence of Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis.