The government will pay for the treatment of a Turkish Cypriot baby girl suffering from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Thursday.
Following reports that the government had stated readiness to assist, the minister said the patient’s file is already on his desk and approval will be given for the necessary treatment.
The family and friends of 11-month Asya Polatli who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy had launched a campaign to raise money for the around €2 million needed for the baby’s treatment.
Fundraisers and many events have been organised in the north to collect the money, but it has not been possible so far to raise such a large amount.
Asya needs to receive the Zolgensma, her family says, a gene therapy used to treat children with SMA less than two years old, that costs around €2m. The medicine is administered in a one-time-only dose.
Turkish Cypriot daily Avrupa reported that Asya’s case was brought to the attention of the government by head of the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union (KTOS) Sener Elcil and the ‘This Homeland is Ours’, platform. The daily reported that an initiative has been launched in the north to persuade the Republic of Cyprus to help in Asya’s treatment.
According to the daily, Elcil has tried to contact officials in the south including President Nicos Anastasiades, to reach out and help Asya. In his letters, he was asking that the government covers the cost of Asya’s treatment like it had done in the past with Greek Cypriot child, Antonis Andreou, with the same condition.
Elcil reportedly received a response to a letter he sent Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, that the government was ready to do everything possible to help Asya.
Back in 2019, 22-month-old Andreou, also with SMA, became the first patient from Cyprus to receive Zolgensma, the only known medication for the disease.
The government announced it would pay for the toddler’s expenses after his family had launched a fundraiser for his treatment in Boston. Antonis’ parents said a year later after the treatment that his condition kept improving.