No cases of malaria have been identified in public hospitals, health minister Giorgos Pamboridis said on Thursday, adding that he would report to the police a website for publishing fake news.
“I wish to be crystal-clear that this is a false report and that the website which fabricated it, and is knowingly disseminating it, is spreading fake news and is trying to create panic over a non-existent issue,” Pamboridis told reporters at a quickly convened press conference in Nicosia.
“There is no malaria, nor has there been any incident of malaria in our hospitals,” he added.
Responding to questions, the minister said he would be filing a complaint to the police against the website in question.
Going further, Pamboridis appealed to “all concerned, be they politicians or journalists who may have nothing better to do, to stop cannibalising public healthcare and to stop exploiting the suffering of our fellow human beings who daily require the services of public hospitals.”
At a time when efforts are underway to reform public healthcare via the National Health Scheme, it was unfair that medical practitioners as well as patients should be “stabbed in the back in this way,” he added.
It’s understood the minister was alluding to reported incidents of poor service at state hospitals, which he conceded did occur.
But at the same time, one should not tar the whole sector with the same brush.
“Please, let us all be very careful,” he noted.
Asked about the government legislation legalising and regulating the import as well as the cultivation and administering of medical cannabis, Pamboridis censured those MPs who appeared to be opposed.
The bill was again discussed at the House health committee on Thursday.
A number of lawmakers expressed the view that the cannabis should only be imported, but not allowed to be cultivated locally.
Pamboridis argued that the key thrust of the legislation is to bring foreign investment to the island. But there was a second objective, he said, which is to encourage medical research into the field.
“Whether we will import [the cannabis] is incidental. And those who speak disparagingly of the legislation do not realise that it is a growth-oriented bill aimed to attract significant investment to our country.
“If some people do not want these investments, let them vote against the bill.”
Under the bill, the government will issue just two licenses for cannabis production, processing, and distribution.
The medical cannabis will be sold in 30-gram containers, and the substance will be prescribed by a doctor only once all other available medicinal treatments have been exhausted.
Medical cannabis would be used in oncology, neurology, pain relief, rheumatology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology and psychiatry.