The Pancyprian Medical Association has reacted negatively to Health Minister George Pamporides’  who criticised the public sector healthcare system for being selfish and treating patients like they are nuisances and inferior beings.

However, there are too many reports of patients waiting many months for urgently-needed tests, diagnoses and treatments, and the entire system is creaking due to lack of efficient management and effective communication between the various bodies, like the state hospitals, testing facilities and various approval procedures.

The truth is that the patients are not to blame for the mismanagement of the economy between 2008-2013 and subsequent lapse in resources for the public health system. Meanwhile, the minister’s proposals for a national healthcare insurance scheme have been pending for months in front of the House of Representatives. Do the MPs want it on their consciences if more people die because they are not getting the treatments they need?

The Bank of Cyprus Oncology centre is state-managed and under normal circumstances is an excellent source of medical care for those suffering the heartbreaking scourge of cancer. Nowadays it is inundated with more patients than its limited resources can handle. A six-month wait for an MRI is not unusual, and yet in that time, the patient’s cancer may have progressed beyond the point of no return.

Cancer prevention through early detection screenings and testing are a mere dream at this point, because the system is so overloaded with patients who need diagnoses, operations or other treatments. The private healthcare system is expensive and out of the reach of many patients – does that mean they have to suffer?

What does it say about a state system that doesn’t prioritise public health? Do we still live in the 1970’s when the risk of catching cholera in the water was high because we had just been invaded by Turkey? Are we at such a low level of development that cases of cancer cannot be treated and patients treated in a humane way?

It’s high time for unity and coordination in the public health system, and while altruism may not be expected of every individual, at least in the medical profession it is to be expected from each individual who works in it.

This is because of the Hippocratic Oath ‘Do No Harm’ – which was originally in Greek.

“into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm.”

“ἐς οἰκίας δὲ ὁκόσας ἂν ἐσίω, ἐσελεύσομαι ἐπ᾽ ὠφελείῃκαμνόντων, ἐκτὸς ἐὼν πάσης ἀδικίης ἑκουσίης καὶ φθορίης.”

As far as this writer is concerned, doing no harm means making a conscious effort to make things better. It doesn’t mean infighting which makes things worse.

Do no harm. Do good. For the patients’ sake. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, human beings.

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