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Cyprus-Health and Welfare

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Dr. Burham Nalbantoglu General Hospital in Nicosia
Courtesy Office of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," Washington

In the late 1980s, the Turkish Cypriot health care system consisted of two general hospitals, two district hospitals, one psychiatric hospital, all of which were operated by the state, and four private specialized hospitals. There were also ten public health centers that treated less serious medical problems. Between 1963 and 1989, the number of doctors serving in the public sector increased from 76 to 116. This increase was seen in the numbers of both general practitioners and specialists. During the same period, the number of nurses increased from 225 to 315, and the number of public hospital beds rose from 497 to 833. The number of hospital beds in private hospitals was 193 in 1989. With these improvements, the ratio of persons per physician declined from 1,908 in 1963 to 685 in 1989. Likewise, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 individuals was 661 in the same year. There were also increases in the number of dentists. In 1989, there were 18 dentists in state hospitals and 82 in private practice.

Health care services were administered by two directorates under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Directorate of Medicine and Health and the State Laboratories Directorate, as well as by the Social Assistance Services Office.

Health care was socialized in the "TRNC," although there remained a substantial private component. The main objective of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was to guarantee basic health care services for all citizens. In addition, the ministry assumed the responsibility of facilitating the satisfactory social use of these services. Such socialized health care required much capital-- in short supply in the "TRNC." As a result of financial problems, the state faced great difficulties in providing major health care services quickly. In addition, the state sought to send patients to medical centers abroad when medical care for major health problems was not available domestically, mostly to Turkey and Britain. All expenses including transportation were paid by the government.

The regional welfare offices in larger population centers operated under the Directorate of Social Welfare. The main duties of the directorate were child and family welfare, rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents, care of senior citizens, general community services, and services for the families of the victims of intercommunal strife and the disabled. There were housing centers in the three main towns for rural and/or poor children attending schools there.

In addition to the above, the government provided generous welfare and retirement benefits. The foundations for this system were laid by the British colonial administration. At the beginning of the 1990s, Turkish Cypriot social welfare policies compared favorably with those of advanced West European countries.

The Social Insurance Fund covered 75,000 citizens in 1989. In addition to paying for health care costs, it provided retirement benefits and financial aid to the needy, and assisted those disabled and survivors of those killed during intercommunal conflict. In October 1989, about 9,000 persons received monthly payments from the fund.

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Statistical reports of the Republic of Cyprus are the most current source of information about Greek Cypriot society. Publications of the Social Research Center in Nicosia also cover a range of social topics. The Cyprus Review, also published in Nicosia, frequently contains articles dealing with recent social developments in Cyprus. There are a number of excellent books about Greek Cypriot society, but they only treat developments of the 1960s and 1970s. The Greek Gift and The Heart Grown Bitter, both by Peter Loizos, contain detailed treatments of the lives of the inhabitants of a village before and after the events of 1974. Kyriacos C. Markides and others deal with a larger village in Lysi: Social Change in a Cypriot Village, and Michael A. Attalides examines the capital in Social Change and Urbanization in Cyprus.

Readers wishing to learn more of Turkish Cypriot society will find their choice of sources restricted to a few books and publications. The North Cyprus Almanack published in London by K. RĂ¼stem and Brother covers many social topics. Vamik Volkan has written numerous articles and books that treat, sometimes only in passing, the psychology and way of life of Turkish Cypriots. The Cyprus Review is also informative about Turkish Cypriot society. The journal attempts to bridge the gap between the island's two communities and contains scholarly articles that deal with a great variety of subjects. Statistics published by the "TRNC" State Planning Organisation can help a researcher learn much about the structure of Turkish Cypriot society. Finally, Lawrence Durrel's Bitter Lemons, written in the 1950s, provides glimpses of Cypriots of both communities before independence. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of January 1991

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