PM says free public health care sustainable if Malta keeps moving forward
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that free public health care would remain sustainable, as long as Malta kept moving forward and attracting growth.
Speaking at the beginning of the Independence Day celebrations in Floriana, Dr Gonzi said the Nationalist government believed that health was the most important asset, which was why it invested €1m in the sector every day.
“Keeping health care free and sustainable is all about making the right choices – just as we did when we chose independence for Malta,” Dr Gonzi said.
Dr Gonzi said that the government’s health care investments had included the closure of the Maghtab rubbish dump, which had greatly improved the quality of air, and stopping the dumping of sewage straight into the sea, which had resulted in Malta having the cleanest coast in the Mediterranean.
He talked about the free medicines that were available for people with chronic conditions, and said that at least 100 women had been saved through the free breast-screening program. He also spoke about the recently-held WHO Regional Committee, where Malta’s health care system had been held up as an example to other countries, and said that this would be the response that the PN would give, in the very likely case that loose cannon MP Franco Debono should present a motion of no-confidence against Health Minister Joe Cassar once Parliament re-opened.
Addressing the issue of the waiting list at Mater Dei Hospital, he said that the true testimony of the hospital’s success were the thousands of people who had received expert treatment from the staff. He said that the Cabinet had also worked to reduce the backlog on the cataract waiting list.
Dr Gonzi also expressed his thanks to medical personnel, saying that the ‘family doctor’ culture had been largely lost in many countries, and this was something that should be treasured in Malta. On the issue of the recent disagreement with a prominent oncologist, Dr Gonzi said that there would always be disagreements, and the important thing to do would be to put aside any differences and focus on the patient’s health.
He also mentioned the eating disorder clinic in the pipeline, and spoke about the oncology hospital that was under construction, saying Boffa Hospital was never built as a cancer-treatment building, and it was time for an improved centre.
On the subject of trainee medical students, Dr Gonzi said that the government had also managed to address the problem of brain-drain – young Maltese doctors who went to study abroad and never returned – by collaborating with foreign universities for prestigious medical courses.
“When you have a party who is willing to invest in your health and make it its number one priority, that party is the best choice for you.”
Dr Gonzi concluded his speech by saying that Labour still couldn’t stomach the fact that Independence Day was not an exclusively PN-celebration but a celebration of all that the Maltese as a nation had achieved together.
“We celebrate independence more than other countries because we are able to make a choice even though we have less choices available to than other countries. All we have to rely on are our skills and our courage. This is what we achieved in rough times, think of what we can do when the sea is calm.”