The Ministry of Health (MoH) denies access to necessary healthcare to a third-country migrant woman. The fact that she has been living in Cyprus for the past 12 years and is the single parent of a child with Cypriot citizenship does not differentiate the position of the MoH.
About two months ago, due to hemorrhage and intense pain, Ms A visited a public hospital and was examined by a gynaecologist who, due to the urgent need for immediate treatment, arranged for gynaecological surgery, which was not covered by the private health insurance of Ms A.
The need for immediate surgery, in combination with her poor economic situation, led Ms A to request from the MoH free access to public health services. Even though the Ministry was informed about the dismal economic position of the migrant woman and the situation of her health, it refused to accept her request on the grounds that as a third-country national she is not entitled to free access to the health services.
Ms A is in Cyprus with a temporary residence permit as a “visitor” according to the anachronistic Alien and Immigration law, in force since the colonial period and essentially eliminates and/or deprives basic rights of migrants, such as the right to health and work, while it does not safeguard access to social benefits. Ms A’s residence permit of “visitor” is given to migrant family members of Cypriot citizens. This residence permit must be renewed annually and requires, among others, that holders have a private health insurance which, apart from the high cost, does not cover major categories of medical areas such as gynecological, dental and chronic diseases problems.
The policy and practice followed so far by the state also violates the rights of children, as the parents’ lack of access to health services and social welfare reduces the quality of childcare that parents themselves provide to their children and constitutes indirect discrimination against them (the children).
It is noted that for the past two years, Ms A is unemployed despite the fact that she is looking for a job and is registered at the Public Employment Service. Previously, she worked for ten consecutive years and paid regular contributions to the Social Insurance Fund. This migrant woman lives with her child and until recently they lived on the money of her Cypriot former partner and father of the child who gave them some money as informal alimony. However, in recent months the child’s father stopped providing this money to Ms A and their child.
In light of these circumstances, Ms A applied for a Minimum Guaranteed Income (MGI) in the first month of its introduction (August 2014). However, she has been informed that her application has not yet been considered by the competent authorities. Ms A is one of the many applicants still waiting for the examination of their applications for a long time, mainly due to the priority given by the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance (MoLWSI) based on ethnic rather than qualitative criteria.
In view of the above, we call on the MoH and MoLWSI to intervene immediately in order to:
- Facilitate Ms A’s free access to the public health services so as to have the necessary health care she needs.
- Examine and immediately approve her application for MGI.
KISA also calls on the Ministry of Interior and the state in general to proceed directly to:
- The legal regulation of the residence status of family members of Cypriot citizens so that these people have similar rights to the family members of EU citizens.
- Providing people who are family members of Cypriot citizens with access to public health services under the same conditions with their Cypriot family members.
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