Health minister to consult bioethics committee on end-of-life care

Health minister Chris Fearne says end-of-life care raises legal and moral questions, asks Bioethics Consultative Committee to discuss the matter

Health minister Chris Fearne
Health minister Chris Fearne

The Bioethics Consultative Committee chaired by family medicine expert Pierre Mallia has been entrusted with looking into the ethical and legal aspects of end-of-life care, health minister Chris Fearne said today.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Hospice Movement, Fearne said “everybody has a right to die in dignity” while stressing that treatment should be offered to the very end of human life.

Announcing that he has asked the Bioethics Consultative Committee to discuss end-of-life care in detail, he said “end-of-life situations raise ethical and legal questions.” The committee members include outspoken monk Fr Mark Montebello, former 1980s Labour health minister Censu Moran, Labour candidate Nikita Zammit Alamango. Others include Fr Mark Sultana, Dr Bernard Caruana, Dr Alberto Vella and Sylvia Spiteri.

This follows the plea by ALS sufferer Joe Magro’s request to have the delicate subject discussed in Parliament.

In February, the 56-year-old Magro had told MaltaToday that lawmakers should look at the legislative models in Switzerland, Germany and Canada and said that euthanasia should not be made easy, but should be regulated “by a strict legal framework.” 

His wife has also launched an online petition, urging MPs to legalise euthanasia so that her husband can die in dignity. 

Fearne also thanked the Hospice Movement and staff at the Sir paul Boffa Hospital in Floriana for their dedication in offering palliative care to patients.