Cyprus climbs Euro health index

CYPRUS has climbed two places in the annual European Health Consumer Index (EHCI), ranking at 19 out of 33 countries.

This is below Eastern European Countries such as the Czech Republic and Estonia, but above Spain and Hungary. The Netherlands topped the charts for the second year running, with a record 875 out of 1,000 points.

The survey gave Cyprus a total of 637 points, based on six areas of patient service; Patients’ rights and information, e-Health, Waiting times for treatment, Treatment outcomes, Range and reach of services provided and access to medication.  

This score reflects Cyprus’ relatively good waiting times but highlights the need for better e-health, and increased range and reach of services.

Dr Arne Björnberg, Director of the Euro Health Consumer Index, said yesterday: “Cyprus keeps proving that its healthcare standards are in par with EU average, as stated by the European Observatory. “However, Cyprus shares with Greece a rather poor equity for access to healthcare, this still being more dependent on private payment than elsewhere in Europe.”

It seems that there is a gulf between the public and private healthcare service providers in Cyprus. Those who can afford a private clinic can expect first class treatment. However, those without the means to pay for a private clinic will experience below the European average standard of healthcare.

Daniel Eriksson, Head Researcher for the Canadian component of the Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index, which ranked Cyprus 21 out of 32 in May 2009, explains: “Cyprus is problematic to score, because no other member state has as high a proportion of healthcare being privately funded.”

He added: “If the patient can afford to pay out of pocket, good healthcare can be had in any country.” 

Cyprus’ score is set to improve once the government has completed its two year plan to reform the NHS. The new system will be based on Public-Private Partnership (PPP), which should provide a greater range of services to people with low incomes.

E-health is also set to improve under the new system. Last week the government began a competitive dialogue with companies to build a new IT infrastructure, which will dramatically improve the management of patient information. This has not happened until now due to an appeal by one unsuccessful contractor, and has created significant delays in treatment.

Kyriacos Christofi, president of the Health Insurance Organisation, told the Cyprus Mail: “The most significant obstacle to moving forward has now been removed. Competitive dialogue will now start with the remaining two tendering companies, IBM and NCR.”