The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

€2 million a day: budget for the health sector has doubled since 2012, Fearne says

Monday, 21 October 2019, 14:41 Last update: about 22 days ago

The budget made available for Malta’s health sector has doubled since 2012, with €735 million being set aside for this sector in the upcoming year’s budget, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Monday when going through various measures that will be introduced.

The budget for the health sector alone will be of €735 million – equivalent to €2 million or so invested every day. In 2012, Fearne noted, the budget for the health sector and elderly services, which was back then combined, was of €370 million.

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Throughout the press conference, held at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, Fearne listed various measures that fall under the umbrella of the health sector.

He noted that the National Health Strategy 2020-2030 will be released in the coming days with the focus being primarily based around three pillars; having an exceptional level of service at hospitals, having health services in the community, and not only looking at curing illnesses making sure that people’s health are looked after through, for instance, Artificial Intelligence.

Fearne listed a variety of infrastructural projects that the government will be undertaking. He said that the geotechnical survey for the new outpatients building was completed and that excavations – since the building contains five levels of underground parking – will begin in November 2020.  He said that the project will cost some €170 million and be completed by 2025.

As of next March, a high dependence isolation unit will be opened at Mater Dei to deal with cases of extremely infective diseases, while new robotic systems to help in operations and in medicine stocking will also be installed by this coming November. A geological survey for a €17 million Blood Bank near Mater Dei is also done, with works expected to start in April next year.

Works have continued on the Vincent Moran Health Centre in Paola, with the completion date being in around two years, while there are plans for a regional health centre in the north of the island as well. The three year plan to have clinics in every town and village will continue, Fearne said, with one new clinic – that in Zejtun – about to be inaugurated next week.

He spoke about works ongoing at Mount Carmel Hospital, with works taking place at Block 1 of the hospital to change its ceilings, and with patients being relocated out of Block 10, which will be demolished to make way for a therapeutic garden after issues with the building’s foundation were found.

A new acute psychiatric care hospital connected to Mater Dei by tunnel and with 120 beds is also in the works, with the medical brief being finalised.  The €55 million project is slated for completion by 2023, Fearne said.

New medicines, such as insulins and meningitis vaccines along with prostate medicine, will be added, while the government budget for cancer medicines will rise to a record high of €18 million.

Parents with children who have rare diseases and hence must spend a lot of time in hospital – locally or overseas – and miss work will have their social security contributions paid by the government for up to eight years so that their pensions aren’t affected, while Fibromyalgia and ME have also been recognised for sickness assistance. There will also be measures for patients suffering from cancer and needing to take leave on frequent occasions during the year.

Fearne said that last week, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna had announced 350 measures, and hence 350 pieces of good news.  The best piece of news however, he said, was that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had confirmed that this will not be his last budget.

 

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