The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

Discussions ongoing for pharmacies to open on Sunday afternoons as well

Shona Berger Sunday, 19 September 2021, 13:49 Last update: about 29 days ago

Discussions with stakeholders are currently ongoing to keep pharmacies open on Sundays not only in the morning but also in the afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne said. 

Currently, every Sunday a different set of pharmacies open in Malta, usually from 9am to noon but pharmacy hours may vary. The only pharmacy that opens with usual hours is located at the Malta International Airport.   

Addressing a Labour party conference that primarily focused on Malta’s health sector, Health Minister Fearne also said that in the coming weeks and months, the government will be providing medication for a number of conditions free of charge. 

These conditions include fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, mental health conditions as well as skin diseases. From next year, medication required for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) will also be given free of charge.  

“Apart from the mentioned conditions, we will also be working on announcing the introduction of other medication,” Fearne said. 

He emphasised that when it comes to the health sector, the biggest investment that one can make is in human resources. 

In a virtual meeting with Health Minister as he declared that he is abroad, Fearne spoke about the pandemic, highlighting that it changed, and it is still changing the world. “It has changed the way we work and learn, and it would be unwise if we did not acknowledge this change.” 

He highlighted that Malta’s health care system is resilient, robust, and strong. For this reason, Malta managed to deal and cope with the increase in demand due to the virus. “During the duration of this pandemic there was not a single patient who did not receive the care and treatment they deserved.” 

Fearne also brought to light the fact that due to the pandemic, for a number of months, services and appointments had to be postponed as all resources were allocated in fighting the Covid-19 virus. 

“We are currently going through a ‘catch-up’ period to get everything back on track, including screening, operations and other interventions. Many departments within the health sector have been successful in doing this and I believe that we will succeed,” Fearne said. 

Nonetheless, he appealed that this period of recovery is still not easy, and the collaboration of the public is of crucial importance. 

He also appealed to the unions to pull one rope in the best interest of the patients. 

“What we lost during the pandemic, we can get back in a short period of time,” Fearne said. 

Diabetes pilot screening project to be made available for adults 

Highlighting the pilot screening project among children with diabetes, which has now been extended and will continue to be given to anyone under the age of 16, Fearne said that this will be extended to adults as well and a similar project will be done for conditions related to heart disease. 

Fearne also highlighted the government’s plan in renovating and developing health care centres in different localities around Malta. The aim is to support and help residents of the locality and avoid them having to go to Mater Dei Hospital.

Sexual services to be introduced in community clinics 

“Sexual services are also of crucial importance. Therefore, these will not only be provided at the genitourinary GU clinic at Mater Dei Hospital, but these services will also be moved into community clinics,” Fearne said. 

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact, the mental health sector will also be given priority by the government for the coming year with the aim of improving the mental health situation in Malta. 

New crisis intervention service to be launched to address mental health problems 

“We will be putting more emphasis on prevention by setting up new crisis intervention services for people with mental health problems. We will also have a dedicated team which will go to the homes of people who are severely suffering with their mental health and give them immediate care. This will be for those cases in which mental health problems might lead to suicide,” Fearne said. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the introduction of robotics in hospital is also something that the government will continue working on. Fearne clarified that the introduction of robots will not replace the work of health care workers, but it will support them and make their life easier. 

PN is not open to criticism and new ideas – Ramona Attard 

Meanwhile, PL President Ramona Attard highlighted the aim of this conference, saying that it is not a cosmetic exercise but a testament to the determination of the party’s ambitious plan for Malta which seeks to involve everyone. 

She criticised the Nationalist Party “as it demonstrates an attitude of arrogance, choosing to ignore the public’s constructive criticism.” 

“The time of provocation is over, and we do not want Malta of the past, but we want Malta of the present and future. The attacks of the Nationalist Party are not a priority, as the Labour Party is committed to remain focused on what matters in order to bring the country and its people forward in the right direction,” Attard said. 

She noted the positive remarks as well the criticism that emerged from the discussions held during the Labour Party’s conferences. Among the proposals was the need to change the IVF law, as to this day many couples still have to go abroad for this treatment. 

Attard also mentioned the awareness that emerged during one of the discussions on sexual health, including the importance of contraceptives. 

The main difference between the two parties is that the Labour Party is open to criticism and new ideas, whilst the Nationalist Party is not, Attard said. 

Time has come to stop discussions but act in the interest of the public – Daniel Micallef 

For his part, PL Deputy Leader Daniel Micallef highlighted that “the time to discuss medication that is out of stock has ended, as the focus has shifted on introducing new medication and services into Malta’s health system.” 

Micallef praised the discussions and suggestions made by a number of people during the conference but noted that these discussions have to be acted upon in the interest of Maltese and Gozitan families. 

He appealed to the public in sharing their life experiences as “people are key to the change that needs to be made in this country.” 

“This party will not be participating in any irresponsible game that promises everything to everyone. When the time comes, we will launch a vision for the future based on the credibility the Labour Party has gained throughout the years,” Micallef said.   





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