Efforts under way by the Maltese Government are expected to lead to agreements similar to that with the UK in the health sector, for patients in Malta with rare illnesses to be given treatment in European Union hospitals. This was announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne at a conference during which Mrs Michelle Muscat announced a programme of efforts at European and even at world level to raise more awareness on rare diseases. Minister Fearne explained that on the same lines as the agreement with the UK, whereby Maltese patients are treated at no charge in UK hospitals when necessary, efforts are under way at European level so that Maltese patients with rare diseases in Malta are given treatment and support in European Union hospitals specialising in rare diseases, through the European Reference Networks.
Mrs Muscat also announced that with Malta holding the Maltese Presidency, efforts are being made at European level to raise more awareness on rare diseases. Mrs Muscat added that following efforts by the Maltese Government, a committee has been set up within the United Nations to focus on rare diseases, with the aim of this sector being given more support and recognition. Minister for Social Dialogue Helena Dalli said that unfortunately the pharmaceutical industry does not invest enough in rare diseases, even for commercial reasons.
There are some 25,000 persons in Malta with some 8,000 types of rare diseases between them.