Education and health | More funds for IVF, mental health clinic, and free MATSEC exams

A number of new health services are planned for 2019, the Budget document says, with the mental health sector being earmarked for improvements

University and MCAST courses to be revised, exam fees to be abolished

Courses offered by the University of Malta, MCAST and other higher-education institutions are going to be revised, with a view to making subjects which are necessary for the current economic reality more attractive to students.

Through a revision of courses’ classification, students will be incentivised to choose those subjects which lead to jobs which the country needs trained people to occupy, the Budget indicates.

As had been announced during the last budget, after having been halved this year, SEC and MATSEC examination fees will be removed as from next year.

In terms of broader investments in the educational sector, the Budget document shows that the government plans to enter into the third phase of “My Journey” programme, whereby students will be given to choose programme which are more relevant to them, and to the economy’s needs, based on their personal abilities.

There will be a greater push towards encouraging students to follow subjects in the areas of science, technology and mathematics.

When it comes to educators, the government said it would continue to work to train them in a way which caters for current realities, and would be opening new teachers’ courses in this regard.

Supply teachers will have the chance to follow courses developed by the Education Institute, which will enable them to reach the status of regular teachers.

New mental health clinic

A number of new health services are planned for 2019, the Budget document says, with the mental health sector being earmarked for improvements.

A new mental health clinic in the northern part of Malta is planned, as are a day treatment centre, as well as hostels in which persons with minor mental health problems can seek treatment while continuing to participate in the community.

School clinic for autistic children

A specialised clinic is being planned, to be located within the Marsa Primary School, which will be providing Sensory Integration Therapy to children who experience difficulties – such as autism – which hinder them from participating wholly in the education system.

The Children and Young People Services will be relocated from St Luke’s Hospital.

New Outpatients unit and car park at Mater Dei

Next year will see the start of the building of a new Outpatients services block at Mater Dei Hospital, the Budget document states, with the Inpatients department being expanded in place of where the current Outpatients department is located.

In connection to this, work on a new 500-space car park will also start.

Preparations are underway for a new acute care hospital close to Mater Dei Hospital, which will also include a psychiatric Outpatients department.

More funds for IVF

The government plans to provide more funds for IVF treatment, with the aim of putting into effect the services laid down in the new law and the new protocols approved earlier in 2018.

The Budget touches on robotic surgery, which was mentioned in the past weeks by the Prime Minster, and which it says will allow patients, who previously had to be sent abroad for any such procedures, to benefit from state-of-the-art robotics which will enable surgeons to perform operations with great precision.

As already announced, Mater Dei’s medical and related equipment will be upgraded throughout.

The Budget document reiterates that the new Barts Medical School in Gozo will be ready and will start operating.

Blood Bank’s blood screening abilities to be improved

The National Blood Bank is going to be equipped with new machinery which can screen for diseases which have in recent years started spreading in European.

A Blood, Tissue and Cells Centre is also going to be established, with building works expected to start this year.

Committee to evaluate requests for rare conditions medicines

A new committee is planned to be set up which will evaluate requests for medications for rare illnesses or conditions which are currently not being offered free of charge by the government. Such medicine often costs thousands of euro, the Budget document points out, highlighting that a “substantial amount” of money is going to be put forward for this purpose.

The Budget confirms the government’s commitment to investing more in cancer treatment, and in medicines for infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV.

Medicines related to prostate health will be added to the list of government-provided treatments.

€600,000 on renewing outdoor sport facilities

The government plans to embark on a two-year programme which will see €600,000 being invested towards the re-building of open spaces and pitches across Malta and Gozo, which have fallen into a state of disrepair due to lack of maintenance. A total of 18 such facilities in 15 localities have been identified in this respect.

In connection with corruption in sport, an organisation for integrity in sport is going to be set up, which will be working with the police, sports associations and other authorities.

A ten-year national sport strategy will also be drawn up, which aims to improve the results attained by Maltese athletes at an international level.

In connection with the cultural sphere, as from next year, all secondary school students will be able to visit for free, together with two adults, historical sites and museums run by Heritage Malta.