Cancer patients and their friends and families as well as other organised groups on Tuesday gathered outside the Presidential Palace in a peaceful protest against the poor conditions and facilities offered to cancer patients locally.
The protest coincided with World Cancer Day which is marked every year on February 4 around the world.
Organised by the association for cancer patients and families Elazo, the demonstration took place at 4pm, with the lighting of candles and the placing of red carnations at the Palace entrance in remembrance of those who lost the battle to cancer.
In an announcement, the association expressed their frustration with the lack of health provisions offered by the state for patients suffering with the disease and claimed that those in need are abandoned 'in favour of bankers and golden boys'.
Elazo pointed to the urgent need to create radiology units at Nicosia and Limassol General Hospitals so that cancer patients are not forced to seek necessary treatments in the private sector, while they accused the government of showing indifference to the exploitation of patients.
Speaking at an event to mark the day held at the University of Nicosia yesterday evening, Health Minister Petros Petrides said that approximately 3,000 people in Cyprus and one in three Europeans are diagnosed with cancer every year, remaining the second cause of death in Europe and around the world.
Petrides said that the ministry has taken decisive steps to help fight cancer in Cyprus, as 33-40% of all cancers can be prevented, by implementing a complete strategic plan based on prevention, treatment, palliative care and research.
Meanwhile, the ministry has re-issued and distributed the European Code against cancer across the island and successfully carried out a national campaign against cancer as well as other events to support a healthy lifestyle.
In terms of breast screening, the minister said that efforts are underway to upgrade the entire programme, while the screening programme for colon cancer which was piloted in the Larnaca district has been used as an example of good European practice by the EU's JRC research centre.
Petrides also stressed that despite the dire financial times, patients are provided with the most recent drug treatments and efforts are made to collaborate with all institutions in order to develop palliative care solutions which are currently undertaken by non-profit organisations.
At the same time, ruling party Disy yesterday pointed out the immediate need to promote prevention and early diagnosis programmes, aiming at awareness campaigns regarding smoking, breast screening, colon and cervical tests, while also supporting patients' needs to quality healthcare and treatment services.