Oncology care to be provided at primary level

A number of new health services will also be introduced in 2023, including Oncology Clinics at primary care level

The inflation associated with the Russia-Ukraine war did not spare the health sector in 2022, the finance minister said on Monday.

Clyde Caruana said Government had to absorb an increase of around €3 million in medicines prices and a further €4 million in an increase in the consumption of medicines whose price has risen over the past year.

Despite these and other challenges, however, the Minister expressed pride in the fact that Malta’s health services were once again singled out for praise by the World Health Organisation.

Free medicines

A number of new medicines and treatments will be added to the Government Formulary, and provided free-of-charge.

These include a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, for all boys born from 2000 onwards; as well as free medicines for multiple sclerosis.

A wider range of patients will also benefit from medicines to treat diabetes and osteoporosis; while people receiving gamete-donation from third parties, will start to benefit from stimulant medications, in conjunction with the services offered by Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic (ART).

The Government Formulary will also be updated to provide a number of these medications free of charge.

Another fund will be provided for urgent cases of suspected or diagnosed cancer, with the necessary treatment provided within a 12-week period.

Chemotherapy Pumps, that patients can use from the comfort of their home, will also be provided for free, if and as prescribed by the caring consultant.

New Services

A number of new health services will also be introduced in 2023: including Oncology Clinics at primary care level; a new Diabetes Centre at the Qormi Health Centre; the introduction of Genitourinary (GU) Clinics within the community; as well as GP Appointment Clinics in Health Centres.

Patients suffering from hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) will also benefit from an extension of the Remote Patient Monitoring project.

The services provided by the Assisted Reproduction Clinic – previously limited only to couples seeking to have their first child – will be extended also to those who wish for a second child. Pre-Implantation Genetic Testing (PGTM) will also be offered, in accordance with the protocols of the Embryo Protection Authority.

The already-introduced ‘Nurse Navigator’ service – which provides assistance to patients and families, from the moment of diagnosis until the end of the medical process - will be extended to the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre (SAMOC) Hospital.

Patients residing in Gozo, who have completed their cancer treatment, will also benefit from the Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) Clinic service, offered at the Gozo General Hospital.

Community services currently provided by Mater Dei Hospital will be expanded through Point of Care (POC) testing, aimed at dealing with serious sexually-transmitted diseases as promptly as possible.

In addition, the services currently provided by the Child Development Assistance Unit (CDAU) and Child and Young People’s Services (CYPs), will be centralised into a single, state-of-the-art centre.