[WATCH] Maltese patients to be eligible for treatment at 500 rare disease hospitals across Europe

Mater Dei Hospital will be joining a European Reference Networks group of rare disease hospitals, Chris Fearne says

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne was a guest on last night's Xtra on TVM
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne was a guest on last night's Xtra on TVM

Maltese patients suffering from rare diseases will soon have access to treatment at 500 of the best specialised hospital in Europe, Chris Fearne said.

The Health Minister said that Mater Dei Hospital would be joining the group of hospitals, which are united by means of European Reference Networks.

This will mean that - subject to the normal process involving technical committees which determine who can benefit from treatment at the hospitals - patients will be eligible for care at one of the centres, depending on the type of disease.

Fearne - who was speaking during last night’s edition of Xtra - said the new system for Maltese patients will be launched next week, in collaboration with Michelle Muscat, the National Alliance for Rare Diseases Support president.

“Patients will now not only receive an excellent health service in Malta - which has a health system ranked amongst the world’s ten best [according to The Lancet] - but also in the best centres around Europe,” Fearne said.

Opposition has to put its own house in order

The programme also touched on the government’s unprecedented successive electoral triumphs, with presenter Saviour Balzan asking Fearne whether this could lead to an element of overconfidence.

Fearne said the government could not afford to be arrogant, because anything it did received an instant reaction from the people via social media.

“Nowadays, whatever the government does is reacted to instantaneously on social media and through the various means of mobile communication. We are no longer in a situation where people’s complaints fall on deaf ears. Social media is keeping politicians closer to the people, and makes it impossible to be arrogant, since they will react immediately,” he said.

Questioned about the rapport the government had with the Opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister said relations were “normally very good”.

At the moment, however, the internal tribulations within the Nationalist Party were starting to manifest in warnings given by its representatives, when discussing parliamentary matters with the government, advising that a certain position on some issue might not necessarily be backed unanimously within the PN.

“Right now there is some disagreement within the Opposition, whereby a respective Opposition representative for a certain area might warn us that there won’t necessarily be complete agreement within the Opposition benches on which approach to go for. I don’t know how long this state of affairs will persist,” he said.

Fearne highlighted that the situation the Opposition was in couldn’t be blamed on the government’s success.

“The fact the Opposition is in the state it is in is not the fault of the government’s success. […] We clearly have the Maltese people’s support… the Opposition has to set its own house in order,” he said.