As of the 1 June 2019, a National Health System (GESY), is in effect for the first time in Cyprus, introducing major differences in the provision of health care services. The new system introduces the concept of the personal GP in the community as a focal point for referrals to all specialised doctors. A network of private practitioners, pharmacies, and diagnostic centres have been set-up in order for health services to be provided, and in June 2020, a number of private hospitals are also expected to join the new health system for in-hospital treatment. For most of the population (Cypriots and EU citizens) in Cyprus, health services are now provided almost exclusively under the new health system.
Beneficiaries of international protection are included in the new health system. The transition to the new health system was, however, not smooth due to various coordination challenges between the appointed relevant governmental departments, a lack of translated material in the language of beneficiaries and confusion among medical and hospital staff in regard to refugees’ rights to health care. The situation has been improved during 2020. The most prominent obstacle still present is the fact that persons who received international protection and whose residence permit is under issuance are not able to access GESY services. This creates serious obstacles due to the long waiting times needed for the issuance/renewal of a residence permit. Delays in the issuance of the ARC number, particularly in Nicosia, also contribute to difficulties/delays in obtaining a residence permit and access to GESY.
Beneficiaries of international protection have access to the schemes of the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, operating under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. These schemes include various types of allowances and access to care and technical means. Since May 2018, following a decision of the Council of Ministers, international protection holders are granted access to the allowance scheme provided to HIV positive persons.
Beneficiaries of International Protection participate normally in the National Covid-19 Vaccination Plan.