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Lottides calls on HIO to ensure better access for the disabled across Gesy

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The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) must proceed with the submission of terms and conditions for private hospitals contracted with Gesy in order to remove the discrimination and unequal treatment experienced by people with disabilities due to insufficient access to services and health providers, Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides said on Friday.

In a report, related to a complaint filed by the Paraplegic Organisation of Cyprus (Opak), Lottides said the HIO does not have discretion in this but “has an obligation to impose conditions on health providers for the accessibility of service” based on international obligations as well as national legislation, which bind both the public as well as the private sector.

According to Gesy law, all health service providers should provide their services without any discrimination due to, including disability.

The report notes that in order to remove the discriminatory treatment against people with disabilities, it was advisable for the HIO to take the necessary actions to ensure equal access to the health services provided within the framework of Gesy,  “on the one hand, by providing said services in accessible places and facilities, and on the other hand, having the necessary equipment in a way that ensures their inherent dignity”.

“Therefore, the HIO, in full consultation and cooperation with the representative organisations of people with disabilities, should proceed with the submission of terms and conditions to the private hospitals contracted with Gesy in order to remove the discrimination and unequal treatment that people with disabilities experience due to their insufficient access to facilities and services,” Lottides said.

It also mentions that in view of the ongoing discrimination against people with disabilities, based on laws combating racial and other discrimination, the Ombudswoman had decided to submit a relevant recommendation to the HIO to track the necessary actions “so that people with disabilities are able to enjoy, without discrimination and at the lowest possible cost, the services offered through Gesy just like the rest of their fellow human beings.”

The report has been submitted to the health ministry and the HIO as the competent bodies to implement the recommendations.

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