Good care close to home | Alex Muscat

The evidence is that people like the convenience of receiving treatment for less serious conditions close to home

At a time when the health services of many countries are suffering under the weight of the Covid-19 crisis, Malta is expanding its facilities. Long before the pandemic it was obvious that an ageing population was bound to put more pressure on the health service, so a strategy was put in place to up our game. A core part of this was to relieve pressure on Mater Dei by expanding the services offered in localities.

The opening of a new facility in Kalkara is the latest initiative in this regard. An investment of €40,000 has turned an abandoned shop into a clinic. It is another collaboration between Primary Health Care and the National Development & Social Fund (NDSF), making good use of the investment coming from people who take up our foreign direct investment initiatives. In an indirect way, our newest citizens are paying for these vital improvements, for the benefit of Maltese and other residents, thus solidifying their role in their new country.

The Kalkara clinic offers the service of a family doctor and nurse, together with various specialisms - pathology, speech therapy, physiotherapy and podiatry. Its launch comes just a few weeks after a community centre in Marsaxlokk opened its doors. It too has a family doctor and a nursing clinic. Specialisms include podiatry, physiotherapy and spoken language pathology. There are blood test and nutritionist services as well as a genitourinary clinic and a mental health clinic.

In all, 14 community health centres have been opened around Malta and Gozo with the NDSF investing heavily on these centres. The Victoria health centre, the Gudja facility and the Ċensu Moran Regional Hub in Paola are complete. So too is a podiatry centre in Birkirkara. The health centres in Attard, Pietà, Żabbar, Fgura, Sliema, Żurrieq, Żebbuġ and Xewkija have all been renovated and work is continuing a pace in Gżira. Next on stream are facilities in Valletta and Santa Luċija amongst others.

All these improvements have been well received. The evidence is that people like the convenience of receiving treatment for less serious conditions close to home. It saves on car and bus journeys, and having to set off in good time, which is especially welcome for people not feeling at their best who appreciate being able to make just a quick visit to the local facility and get straight back home. Actually, it’s good for the economy too, with less time being taken off work.

These changes are sold evidence of how foreign direct investment is benefiting communities. It is an initiative that goes to the heart of looking after our people.  In all, the NDSF has come up with €10 million for these particular improvements. It works for the advancement of society in many ways with other recent investments being €8 million for a new palliative care centre, run by Hospice Malta, and €5 million to further Maltese athletes who will participate in the European Small Nations Games 2023.

Malta is bouncing back from the pandemic not just economically, with low levels of unemployment, but with a robust and expanding health service too. A society that provides work for its people and looks after their health has to be a society to be proud of.

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