Nurse’s Day – Hypocrisy Day
17 May 2020 HAVARVGI newspaper
Article by Stefanos Stefanou, AKEL C.C. Spokesperson
12th May was International Nurse’s Day and everyone paid their tributes to nurses. Everyone had a good word to say about those who for the past two months have been waging the battle against the pandemic from the front line and in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions. They are doing so next to the rest of the healthcare workers, doctors and all working people employed in the health sector.
Among those who were praising nurses and stressing the work and role of nurses were the government and the ruling DISY party. In the climate of the general recognition of the titanic effort of nurses and health professionals, the government and ruling forces couldn’t repeat what they were saying from time to time, when healthcare workers and professionals were struggling for their justified demands.
This year, DISY did not repeat the familiar to them derogative term of “irrelevant nurses” that its President Averof Neofytou had said when nurses were demanding from the Anastasiades government that it recognize their academic qualifications. This time the government ruling forces did not tell nurses to go and look somewhere else for a job if they weren’t satisfied with their terms of employment. Nor did they dare call spending on public health a “trauma to public finances,” as Averof Neophytou had once stated.
This is what the government ruling forces were saying about the public health system and health officials. What they were derogatory and insultingly saying was an expression of neoliberal health policy in the health sector, with spending on the public health system being held down to the lowest levels across the European Union. It is these policies that has led to the public health system being downgraded and public hospitals falling into decay.
Reminding us of this policy pursued by the government ruling forces, the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) announced on the occasion of International Nurse’s Day that Cyprus is well below the EU average with regards the number of nurses and midwives. Nurses in Cyprus account for just 1.3% of the total workforce compared to 2.2% across the EU.
That’s precisely why this year’s belated praise by the Anastasiades-DISY government of healthcare workers and professionals can’t (and mustn’t) fool anyone. When the pandemic ends and the memory begins to fade of the titanic struggle waged by nurses and doctors, the government ruling forces will abandon the hypocrisy and return to their ideological manias. They will bring back their ideological concepts arguing that the private sector can do better than the public sector; that market rules automatically operate in favour of improving the economy and society; that the state should restrict itself to its regulatory role and nothing more.
It is with these ideological concepts that the government and DISY sought persistently to sell off public wealth and property and to hand them over to big private interests. That’s what they did with the Cyprus Cooperative Bank and the port of Limassol. That’s what they tried to do with the semi-governmental Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) and are still attempt to do. This is what they are also trying to do with the semi-governmental Cyprus Electricity Authority (AHK).
International Nurse’s Day has passed, but the great battles for the defence of the public health system and for the rights of healthcare workers and professionals are before us. And of course there is still the big challenge to ensure the success of the National Health Scheme with the character and the philosophy as decided by the House of Representatives. A decision for which AKEL played a decisive role.
We face great battles that will be waged against the privatizations that the government continues to promote. Battles against the policies of deregulation of work, against austerity. We will struggle for Health and Education to be social goods, for a strong social welfare system, for a modern and efficient state that will serve the people and not powerful interests. These are just some of the key issues at stake in the day after.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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