Health Ministry embroiled in ‘fake’ degrees row

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Top health officials have engaged in verbal combat as Health Minister Popi Kanari seeks to find the truth behind accusations that a university degree held by her Permanent Secretary, Christina Giannaki, is fake.

Kanari inflamed the situation after calling on the senior civil servant to provide proof of her qualifications, including a degree from the Dentistry School of Cairo University.

She also requested to prove that she can adequately speak English, a reported criterion for the role.

Reportedly, the minister invited Giannaki to a high-level meeting to be carried out in English to test her knowledge of the language.

Kanari sent a letter to Giannaki and notified President Nikos Christodoulides, proposing that she contact Cairo University and the other institutions she studied at to prove the authenticity of her degrees.

The minister argued this was necessary to lay accusations to rest.

The accusations emerged from a known whistleblower account on social media under the name ‘Jho Low, the Presidential Godson’.

Giannaki said the minister’s proposals were offensive and rejected compliance with her requests.

She argued that the competent authority for checking civil servants’ credentials was the Public Service Commission, which has not spotted any falsification of her certificates.

Giannaki, based on her CV, holds a degree in Dentistry from the University of Cairo, accredited by Greece’s Interuniversity Centre for recognition of foreign study titles (DIKATSA).

She obtained a master’s in public administration from the Mediterranean Institute of Management.

Giannaki boasts the title of being the only woman who holds the title of maxillofacial surgery, a title she acquired after passing exams organised by the Central Health Council of Athens, accredited by Cyprus.

Based on her CV, she also holds a master’s degree in “Management with a Specialisation in Public Administration”, from the Mediterranean Institute of Management (MIM) (1997-1998)

She also attended the master’s Program in “Administration of Public Dental Health”, at the Faculty of Dentistry, at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden (2001).

She was appointed permanent secretary at the Health Ministry during President Nicos Anastasiades’ administration in 2015.

She was previously acting permanent secretary at the ministry and head of the state’s Dentist Services from 2009 to 2015.