The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Health - The few count as much as the many

Thursday, 15 July 2021, 08:21 Last update: about 21 days ago

Last week, the government announced that patients who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis will be getting their medicine free of charge.

The uncommon disorder damages the lungs, the digestive system and other organs of the body, which also affecting cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices.

The medicine to treat the condition is highly expensive. When he announced the government’s decision, Prime Minister Robert Abela said it would cost around €200,000 per person per year. There are 14 Cystic Fibrosis patients in Malta, and so the government’s investment would run close to €3 million per year.

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But it is all worth it. No one would be able to sustain such an expense, and the government did the right thing in doing all that is possible to help these people.

For many years, the government has been providing medicine free of charge to thousands of people in Malta. Abela said that there are around 130,000 people who benefit from free medicine.

But it is much easier to take decisions when a particular health condition affects the masses. For example, high blood pressure is a condition that affects thousands in Malta, and it is easy to decide to hand out medicine to so many people.

It is much more difficult when fewer people are involved, and especially when the medicine they need costs much more than a pill to control blood pressure.

Yet the government, with its decision to provide the medicine needed for 14 individuals who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis, showed that it cares for the few just as much as it cares for the many. It showed that it makes no distinction between individuals – if there is treatment, and this treatment is available, then the government does its best to lend a helping hand.

The medicine, as Abela said, is an investment in the quality of life of the people involved, as well as their families.

Until a few years ago, being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis was a death sentence, Health Minister Chris Fearne said. The subject is close to the minister’s heart, as he had studied it in depth when he was preparing to become a doctor.

The best moments for a politician, he said, is when decisions taken improve the way people live.

We add to this that when such good decisions are clearly not intended as vote-catching exercises – as is the Cystic Fibrosis medicine case – they take on a bigger meaning and significance.

The health system in Malta is one of the best in all of Europe, and it is certainly something that we should all be proud of. Successive governments have built it to provide the best possible care to the Maltese population.

It is not perfect, but we can all safely say that we trust it. In particular, we trust the people who run it, including the many doctors, nurses and paramedical staff who each day take care of the sick.

When a government decides to invest so much to give attention to 14 individuals, it is proof that nobody is being forgotten.

 

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