The government on Thursday announced plans to launch an electronic platform to monitor healthcare-associated infections.

A healthcare-associated infection is the technical term for an infection contracted by a patient while receiving health care for another condition.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), health ministry medical services director Elisavet Constantinou said Cyprus currently has no continuous surveillance of healthcare-associated infections.

She said indicative recordings are taken and registered with the World Health Organisation but that the current methods are not thorough enough as not all hospitals are obliged to participate and provide the relevant data.

Her words were echoed by infectious diseases epidemiological surveillance and control unit officer Markella Markou, who said there is “no organised system” for healthcare-associated infections to be monitored.

With this in mind, she said the new platform is expected to be up and running by the end of next year.

She said the process of continuously keeping track of healthcare-associated infections is “a big investment and a very time-consuming process”, but that the new platform “will help hospitals carry out their surveillance electronically so this data can be monitored by the health ministry.”

The announcement of the new platform comes after the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published a report showing that Cyprus has the highest rate of healthcare-associated infections of any country in the European Union.

Constantinou said on Thursday the report showed a “deterioration” for Cyprus, but that all countries are “recording deteriorations” by the same measurement due to the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ECDC’s report showed that A total of 13.8 per cent of patients in Cyprus have at least one healthcare-associated infection. This number is more than double the median figure of all 27 EU member states and four members of the European Economic Area, which stands at 6.8 per cent.

In addition, Cyprus has the highest rate of antimicrobial use in the EU and EEA, with 56.5 per cent of hospital patients in the country being prescribed some form of antimicrobial medication.

The country with the second highest prevalence of healthcare-associated infections was Greece, with a rate of 12.2 per cent, while Portugal had the third highest rate, 11.6 per cent.

By contrast, Latvia had the lowest prevalence of healthcare-associated infections, with just three per cent of patients having contracted an extra infection while receiving treatment. Romania and Bulgaria had the second and third lowest prevalences, with 3.1 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.

Greece also had the second-highest rate of antimicrobial use in the EU and EEA, 55.3 per cent, with Bulgaria having the third highest prevalence, 47.9 per cent, despite having the second lowest prevalence of healthcare associated infections in the EU and EEA.

At the other end of the scale, Hungary had the lowest rate of antimicrobial use in the EU and EEA, at just 20.8 per cent, while France had the second lowest rate, 22.7 per cent. Germany had the third lowest rate, at 26.2 per cent.