The Finance Ministry donated €60,000 from the Good Causes Fund to the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF) in line with obligations entered into by the previous finance minister, a spokesperson for the ministry said.
The Malta Independent asked the Finance Ministry why it made the donation instead of just adding the equivalent amount to the health budget.
In reply, the spokesperson said: “This Ministry inherited the Good Causes Fund, which includes thousands of euro in commitments entered into by the previous Minister with various NGOs, including band clubs, and the Community Chest Fund itself. This Ministry is honouring all these commitments.”
A 2013 report by the Auditor General into the administration of the Good Causes Fund found that commitments made by the previous administration effectively tied up the funds well into the future, to the possible detriment of other deserving causes.
Present system turning patients into ‘beggars’
Patients requiring certain treatments not catered for by the National Health Service often have to rely on the Malta Community Chest Fund to help them out.
Last week, Chamber of Commerce President Anton Borg called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to finance the medication of cancer patients who currently rely on the MCCF.
He said President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s unrelenting efforts to raise money for the MCCF are a testament to the failures of the health system.
“It would seem that the annual financial requirements being catered for by the Malta Community Chest Fund are in the region of €4-€5 million. It would seem unreasonable to think that the country cannot find this amount of money to ensure better dignity for those in need...
"The present system has made people in need of life-saving treatment into beggars and we must ensure that suffering individuals are able to access the necessary support from a structured system rather than from ad-hoc charity efforts,” Mr Borg said during a meeting between the Chamber and the Prime Minister.
In reply, Prime Minister Muscat admitted that more “responsibility” is necessary in the National Health Service, given the huge cost burden of maintaining it.
Dr Muscat reaffirmed his belief that healthcare should remain completely free for Maltese patients.
He said it could be financially sustained by attracting medical tourists through a €200 million investment project into St Luke’s Hospital, the Gozo General Hospital.