The creation of a new mental health centre, based on modern psychiatric care principles will improve the lives of patients as well as health workers, President Nicos Anastasiades said laying the foundation stone for it on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event to lay the foundation stone of the new Athalassa centre, the president said it would ease the difficulties which have arisen to date as a result of the country relying on just a single psychiatric centre.

The new centre, to be built at a cost of €33.2 million and including treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration services, the president said, will operate with full respect for the dignity and rights of people with mental health problems.

The first phase, with a total budget of more than €12 million, includes the construction of two acute clinics for men and women, with a 44-bed capacity and an addiction ward, including outpatient clinics, with a 20-bed capacity, offering rehabilitation from alcohol and other substances.

Meanwhile, planning for the second phase of the project, expected to increase capacity, is already underway.

Anastasiades listed other actions undertaken to improve the provision of mental health services including the upgrading of mens’ clinics and the occupational therapy unit at the existing Athalassa Hospital, at a cost of €1.35 million and remodelling a community building to function as a hospice for chronic patients.

Additionally, the president mentioned the operation of a secure ward in Limassol with an eight-bed capacity; the remodelling of rented space to house a centre for neurodevelopmental disorders in Nicosia; and the promotion of centres of excellence, such as the centre for eating disorders for children and adolescents, at Makarios Hospital.

The president noted that the ministry of health’s budget increased by 79 per cent compared to the previous decade.

Expenditure on care services for Gesy in 2022 is expected to reach €1.35 billion, while it is estimated that between 2023 and 2027 this amount will reach €7.3 billion, the president added.

The cost of projects critical to health system infrastructure, either completed or in progress, amounts to €351 million, and during the period of 2013-2021 investment in medical equipment exceeded €90 million with a further €24 million expected to be spent on medical equipment this year. Moreover, Anastasiades said, provisions have been included for health sector funding of €80 million over and above the annual budget.