Without the necessary means to lead a more normal life, people with disabilities are left for months. Some, who are even in specialized centers, complete the first stage of their rehabilitation but are unable to return to their homes, because the competent state department needs, in the best case scenario, six months to approve their application for the appropriate aids.
There are many examples, as stated to ‘Ph’ by the President of the Cyprus Paraplegic Organization, Dimitris Lambrianidis, supporting that “the plan for technical means, of the Department of Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities, is currently the plan with the most significant delays. The waiting time reaches six months, the department receives about 200 applications each month, and the responsible officials cannot respond quickly or within a reasonable timeframe to their obligations towards citizens due to understaffing.”
The applications submitted concern “individuals who need, for example, wheelchairs for bathing, specialized cushions for pressure sore prevention, mattresses for bedsores, electrically powered beds, etc. For a person with a disability, to secure a good quality of life under the circumstances, these aids are necessary, and certainly their cost is such that not anyone can afford them out of their own pocket. For people with disabilities, these are the tools that allow them to live in their own homes and not somewhere else.”
As OPAK, he added, ‘We are very well aware of the current situation. Recently, a case came to light involving a child with cancer who applied to secure such assistance, yet unfortunately, the child’s request was not approved. Not even such incidents seem to move certain technocrats in certain Ministries. Proper staffing of government departments responsible for serving citizens must be a priority for the Government.’
“For this reason,” said Mr. Lambrianides, “the relevant department of the Ministry of Social Welfare needs personnel reinforcement to be able to cope. And we are not talking about highly paid public servants. It is necessary to hire low-paid individuals who will take on the challenging task of evaluating and processing applications from people with disabilities.”
“I find it unacceptable that every citizen is forced to go to the media, to voice their problem and their hardship, in order for us to rush to provide them with what they need,” said Mr. Lambrianides and added, “We have once again been informed that the request of the Ministry of Social Welfare for approval of positions has been rejected. This means that the applications of individuals in need of these technical aids will continue to pile up every six months. We expect from the Government to send a message to those who handle certain matters, that priority must be given wherever the responsibility involves health, social integration, and the well-being of citizens. Also, it is unfair to demonize government departments that cannot efficiently carry out their tasks quickly due to being understaffed, with the responsibility lying with other departments.”