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Dr Agathangelou says he believes in Gesy

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Dr Petros Agathangelou

Dr Petros Agathangelou, the president of the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) on Monday dismissed as ‘mudslinging’ the heavy criticism of his appointment to the board of the Health Insurance Organisation, (HIO), which manages the national health scheme, and said he was committed to Gesy.

The cries against his appointment relate to two issues. First, that he currently serves as head of the CMA, so there would be a conflict of interest for him on the HIO board which has a say on doctors’ remuneration. Secondly there was his past opposition to Gesy – urging doctors not to join and calling those who did ‘apostates’ – that made him unsuitable for the position.

Asked by journalists how he could contribute to something he did not believe in, Agathangelou replied:

“We always believe in a health system. The necessity for a health system is a given.”

He went on to say that concerns over flaws within Gesy, and calls for improvements, should not be seen as hostility toward the system. His work within the HIO would do the talking for him, he added.

His remarks came after an informal meeting of the House health committee, convened by its chairman Eftymios Diplaros. The manner of the convening of the committee itself raised eyebrows, as while it was framed as official parliamentary business, no other committee members were invited.

Diplaros, a Disy deputy, defended President Nicos Anastasiades’ decision regarding Agathangelou’s appointment to the HIO. It was the “persistence and political will” of Anastasiades that ensured the implementation of Gesy, Diplaros said.

But the federation of patients’ associations (Osak) was having none of it, and renewed calls for the revocation of Agathangelou’s appointment.

Miltos Miltiadous, a member of Osak who also sits on the HIO board, said their opposition to Agathangelou was “not personal.”

Asked whether someone who may have different views on a subject should be excluded from a public body, Miltiadous said this was not the case.

“I myself participate in the board of the HIO and we don’t have consensus on an issue there are intense disagreements and discussions on many matters.

“But this relates to decisions – not to the design and very philosophy of the system. Our objections have to do with the views which Mr Agathangelou has expressed from time to time about the planning and philosophy of the system.”

For Osak, the issue of Agathangelou’s appointment was a case of “black and white” – meaning no room for compromise.

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