Malta gains 81 points in study on healthcare systems across Europe

A report by Health Consumer Powerhouse describes Malta’s healthcare system as providing ‘decent accessibility, but not too strong on treatment results’

A study into Europe’s healthcare systems has ranked Malta in the 23rd place, up four places over 2014.

The study, Euro Health Consumer Index (ECHI) 2015, focuses on healthcare systems in 35 European countries. Looking into areas such as patient rights and information, access to care, treatment outcomes, range and reach of services, prevention and use of pharmaceuticals, the EHCI analyses national healthcare on 48 indicators.

The study awarded Malta 663 points for 2015, an increase of 81 points when compared to the 582 points garnered in 2014. The report described the national healthcare system as providing “decent accessibility, but not too strong on treatment results”.

Chris Fearne, parliamentary secretary for health, said the government’s efforts to improve the healthcare sector were bearing fruit.

Malta gained positive results in the treatment of cancer – patients start receiving the treatment in less than 21 days – access to family doctors, dentistry, cataract operations, kidney transplants, dialysis delivered outside hospital and long-term care for the elderly.

Malta scored lower points in physical activity.

The report noted that Malta and Sweden were the only two countries not to have introduced healthcare legislation based on the right of patients by 2013.

The junior health minister said a push will be given this year to the patient charter and the e-prescription.

The ECHI also awards scoring for countries that allow abortion. Malta is one of four countries in Europe – Cyprus, Ireland and Poland – where free abortion rights do not exist. Irish legislation allows for abortion in extreme circumstances and subject to external verdict.

According to the ECHI, the scoring of this indicator is somewhat complex: “The scores are fundamentally based on the principle that free, legally defined abortion should be available for women in any country. At the same time, using abortion as a contraceptive must be regarded as very undesirable.”

The study argued that legal bans do not prevent abortions but rather turns them into a major health risk, forcing women to go abroad or having an abortion under obscure, insecure conditions.

“The latter affects almost solely women in socioeconomically deprived circumstances.”

In a statement, Health Minister Konrad Mizzi said the government will continue to work to improve the services provided and further invest in hospitals and human resources.

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