Mi­grant work­ers clue­less of health rights

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

For­eign work­ers in Cyprus are mostly un­aware of their rights to med­i­cal ser­vices and those who have ac­cess have dif­fi­culty com­mu­ni­cat­ing with med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als due to a lan­guage or cul­tural bar­rier, ac­cord­ing to an EU co-funded sur­vey.

Some 70% of the sam­ple of 1555 people said they are not very well aware of the is­land’s health sys­tem.

But 53% con­sid­ered the ser­vice avail­able to them by pub­lic health ser­vices as “good” to “very good”, while it was higher at 83% for the pri­vate sec­tor.

The main con­cern for mi­grant work­ers was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with health pro­fes­sion­als (61%) mainly due to lan­guage bar­ri­ers, long wait­ing lists (69%), un­der­stand­ing the way the sys­tem works (47%) and re­spect by pro­fes­sion­als (45%).

Some of these is­sues also clash with the for­eign work­ers’ re­li­gious and di­etary habits as well. “One sug­ges­tion would be to have a stand­in­ter­preter or even use some of the

by mi­grant work­ers to help with their fel­low na­tions,” said Chris­tos Panayiotopou­los, As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ni­cosia and leader in the sur­vey com­mis­sioned by Mar­ket­way and co-funded by the Euro­pean In­te­gra­tion Fund.

The main med­i­cal needs by mi­grant work­ers who come mainly from the Mid­dle East and Asia are emer­gency ser­vices and reg­u­lar blood tests.

Panayiotopou­los said that other EU coun­tries are fur­ther ahead in deal­ing with all these is­sues, Spain and Por­tu­gal have al­ready im­ple­mented prac­tices to i mprove their ser­vices, while the UK has been 20 years ahead of them all.

The sur­vey’s con­clu­sions will be pre­sented to the Min­istry of In­te­rior next week and then to the Min­istry of Health, said Amalia Chi­romeri­dou, New Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Man­ager at Mar­ket­way.

How­ever, an is­sue that cropped up dur­ing the sur­vey, un­re­lated to the ques­tion­naire was that 64% had pri­vate in­sur­ance and 31% said they had no in­sur­ance cover at all, a find­ing that con­tra­venes labour laws that state that all for­eign work­ers must be pro­vided with med­i­cal cov­er­age by their em­ploy­ers.

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