Open Letter to Labour Minister Minister Zeta Emilianidou


Update:┬áDear friends and readers, thank you for the flood of support and encouragement, I received a call from Minister Emilianidou’s office, my mother’s application for home care has been approved by ministerial intervention now that she has been made fully aware of the facts. I’m also happy to say that they are willing to listen to ideas about improving the labour service for families with cancer patients. Heartfelt thanks again, I am so grateful. Sarah.

Dear Minister Emilianidou,

My name is Sarah Fenwick, I am a Cypriot citizen and the daughter of a cancer patient.

I am forced to write this letter to you publicly because your secretary did not put me through to you directly when I called in October 2017. Instead, I had to send a message via the ministry’s website email system. My message was a link to this article about my mother’s extremely difficult case of cancer and our request for assistance. Here is the link once again:

The only answer I received about my mother’s application for the patient subsidy was a curt, insensitive response to the effect that my mother was not eligible because she is over 60 years old. When I asked the official by email to tell me her name and telephone number she refused to reply. I have spent most of the last 2.5 years trying to help my mother get the care she needed. We have dealt with 19 different oncologists and related doctors and it has taken a great deal of my time. I could not work normally because of the extreme circumstances. I informed the Social Insurance department in Limassol but they provided me with no solutions. On the contrary, they sued me (you can check with the lawyer named Melina), resulting in a court fine of 150 Euros that was difficult to pay. I was forced to pay it by the police in a humiliating way, who picked me up off the road as I was driving in Nicosia. (You can read another article and letter about this issue here). I visited the legal advisor in the Social Insurance department in Nicosia and she told me there was nothing she could do – I was in tears of frustration and she had no solutions for me at all. I then went to Mrs. Melpo of the Social Insurance department. She was the only official who had any relevant solutions and advised me to apply for an exemption for the period I couldn’t work normally.

Meanwhile, thanks to the efforts of the Anti-Cancer Association, my mother was visited by two people from the Welfare department who said that she does indeed need extensive care and that they would recommend that she be granted the patient subsidy – which was initially rejected by the Minimum Guaranteed Income fund administrators. She is bedridden and constantly visiting medical facilities like the Oncology Centre in Nicosia, accompanied by myself. That was in early October. We haven’t heard from them since. Nobody answers the phones. Nobody seems to care about our humanitarian crisis.

Do you care, Mrs. Minister? Do you take seriously the aims of the Ministry, as described on your website: “The main goal of the Ministry is to…ensure the well-being of the citizens. The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance acts as a stable, effective and trusted aid of the citizen, providing utmost respect and targeted support to the economically and socially vulnerable groups, in order to find a satisfactory solution to the problems faced.”

It is amazing that I only have the chance of contacting you directly and informing you of our desperate situation by writing a public article! I let the phone ring and ring and ring and nobody ever picks up. If it were not for the Anti-Cancer Association’s assistance and my insistence on being fully involved, what would have happened to this cancer patient?

The Labour Ministry is in desperate need of reform and to becoming more sensitive to the real problems experienced by the families of cancer patients. In my experience, not enough attention is paid to the serious problem of loss of productivity due to cancer in the family. It is heartbreaking to watch the one you love go through the pain and agony of cancer treatments, and makes it extremely difficult to work. More solutions are required, as cancer can affect anyone at any time. The public scheme is called social insurance, not social liability. For example, increasing the communications between the Health Ministry and Labour Ministry so that cancer patients have the necessary social support structure. Or initiating a department dedicated to social and labour support for cancer patients and their families. Making information for the families of cancer patients more easily available. Putting in phone message systems so we can get call backs.

If you care, and I am sure that you do given the great work you are doing reducing unemployment, kindly arrange to respond in a timely and proper manner to our justified requests. I can be reached on 95147711.


Sarah Fenwick