The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Every town and village to have health centre in three years – Chris Fearne

Jeremy Micallef Thursday, 12 September 2019, 15:33 Last update: about 9 days ago

Every town and will have its own dedicated health centre in the next three years, Minister for Health and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said on Thursday.

The Health Minister was addressing a press conference at the Kirkop Health Centre, celebrating its anniversary on the day, on various primary healthcare projects going on and to take place in Malta and Gozo in the coming years.

Whilst the Deputy Prime Minister hailed previous administrations for having always looked for excellence when it came to the health sector, he said that this government was taking a different direction with principal importance being put on health care within the community, whilst also taking steps to improve existing hospitals.

“We are looking to make sure that health care within the community is of the highest level so that we would then be able to improve health care in the rest of our health services.”

Fearne explained that in the last year the outpatients department at Mater Dei saw 500,000 patients – 10,000 a week.

“We believe that part of this service can be rendered closer to the patients,” he said, going on to say that what was traditionally done at Mater Dei is now being done within local communities.

In fact, taking the Kirkop Health Centre as an aexampled, the Health Minister explained that 200,000 patients had used one of its services – 180,000 using doctoral services, and others using specialised care such as diabetic or gynaecological care.

He announced that this was not the only project that was in the pipeline, but that intensive works were being carried out on a health centre in Victoria, Gozo, a regional hub in Paola, and that in a few weeks a call for interest will be opened for a dedicated building in the northern region of Malta.

With regards to already existing centres, refurbishment projects are to begin, with €10 million in funds from the National Development and Social Fund (IIP Scheme) available – starting from a full refurbishment of the Gzira Health Centre, for which tenders are currently being adjudicated, which are estimated to take a year to complete.

Services will be relocated during that year.

“We also have a plan to offer services closer to citizens - within 3 years, including 2019, to have opened a health centre in every town and village in the country (Malta and Gozo).”

He noted that a number of new or refurbished centres have opened, or will be opening this year in Attard, Pieta, Sliema, Zurrieq and Xewkija, and in the coming weeks in Zabbar and Zejtun.

Other locations include Mellieha, Marsaxlokk, Valletta, Birgu, Fgura, Santa Lucija, Hal Ghaxaq, Hal Tarxien, Hamrun and Kalkara.

The Health Minister said that all of the above will be worked on from this day until the end of the first half of next year.

Work is also being done to provide services only provided at the GU Clinic in other health centres around the island, along with mental health services that will now also be provided in Pieta, Zurrieq, Attard, Sliema, Birgu and others.

Once this project is completed, an IT service will be implemented to connect these services and all family doctors together so that the system will be a holistic and integrated one.

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