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 stand-by interpreter or even use some of the 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 improve 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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