People living in the Troodos mountain area “should not be treated as second-class citizens”, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday.

He was speaking about the state of the Troodos hospital in the village of Kyperounta, which had been described as “disgraceful” by the House health committee in April, and which caused President Nikos Christodoulides to declare he was “ashamed” on Tuesday.

Ioannou said the government has made “intense representations” to the state health services (Okypy), and that after that, “finally, some of the projects, which I remember from my tenure as [health minister], are going to be completed.”

He explained that within the Gesy framework, most people in Cyprus can now choose their care providers, but the isolated nature of the Troodos region means there is only one hospital serving its residents.

“Their only choice is the Troodos hospital, so they should not be treated as second-class citizens, and we do not consider them second-class citizens, either,” he said.

For this reason, he said, the government should immediately find ways to improve the infrastructure at the Troodos hospital.

“A lot of work has been done so far, but at least as far as the Troodos hospital is concerned, there is a lot which needs to be done immediately,” he said.

He was speaking after a meeting with other ministers, deputy ministers and stakeholders about the government’s national strategy for mountain communities, at which he also announced the government is spending a total of €762 million as part of the strategy.

He added a total of 280 projects are being undertake.

“The aim is to create jobs and develop education,” he said, describing the strategy as a “collective effort”.

He added that Wednesday’s meeting had seen those in attendance given the opportunity for a comprehensive review of the projects’ progress.

“The meeting took place … with the aim of improving the quality of life of our fellow citizens who live in mountainous areas and rural areas,” he said.

He also issued a call to arms for measures to be full-blooded.

“If we as a government went piecemeal … we would not have results,” he said.

“Through a series of multi-level actions, we are seeking to create the necessary infrastructure which will both cover the needs of the existing population so they can remain in these areas, and also make them attractive for new residents.

He said that by “strengthening” mountainous areas and the communities which live there, the government can develop them into “touristic, cultural, agricultural and environmental hubs, with the consequent social and economic benefits.”

In addition, he said each ministry and deputy ministry would carry out a detailed review into each of the projects which fall under their responsibility and draw up road maps for each one of them to be completed.