The Maltese Government provides a comprehensive health service to all Maltese
residents that is entirely free at the point of delivery. This health
service is funded from general taxation. All residents have access to
preventive, investigative, curative and rehabilitative services in
Government Health Centres and Hospitals. Persons with a low income are
'means tested' by the Department of Social Security. If they qualify
for assistance, they receive a card which entitles them to free
pharmaceuticals. Moreover, a person who suffers from one or more of a
specified list of chronic diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) is also
entitled to receive free treatment for his /her ailment, irrespective
of financial means.
Private health services exist alongside the Government service.
Organisation of the Government health service
The Minister for Health, Hon. Dr. Louis Deguara, is overall responsible
for the health services.
The Permanent Secretary is the administrative head within the Ministry. He
is a public officer and is accountable to the Prime Minister. He has
the responsibility to support the general policies and priorities of
the Government and to operate within the context of management
practices and procedures established for the government as a whole. He
also has the duty to provide support and advice to the Minister, to
provide leadership, to manage financial and human resources
effectively and efficiently, to contribute to the collective
management of Government and to ascertain coordination of policies
between all Departments falling within the responsibilities of the
Ministry. The Permanent Secretary is also directly responsible
for the Department of Corporate Services as well as the Government
The Director General Health (DGH) manages the Health Division supported by
a management team of Directors responsible for specific Departments.
The DGH is responsible to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of
Health. The Director General Health is directly accountable to
the Minister for all matters relating to Health. The Office of
the Director General has within it the following offices:
, International Health and Regulatory Affairs.
There are nine Departments in the Health Division, each with a Director: Finance
& Administration, Health Information, Health Policy and Planning,
Health Promotion, Human Resources, Institutional Health, Primary
Health Care, Public Health and Nursing Services.
(Sources: Office of the Permanent Secretary and Office of the Director General)
National health promotion activities (including health education in the
traditional sense) are coordinated by the Department
of Health Promotion. This encompasses the Health Promotion Unit
and the Nutrition Unit. Both Units liaise closely with the Department
of Education and with the mass media.
preventive programmes are run on a national scale, such as the free
immunisation programme, which covers a wide range of illnesses
(including diphtheria, polio, tetanus, pertussis, HiB, measles, mumps,
rubella and tuberculosis).
Health Centres provide extensive preventive services, such as Well Baby
clinics, Well Woman clinics, routine blood pressure and cholesterol
check-ups, smoking cessation clinics, screening for diabetes, and
There are also specialised preventive activities that are hospital-based (such
as thyroid function screening for neonates).
Primary health care
The Government delivers primary health care mainly through eight Health
Centres that offer a full range of preventive, curative and
rehabilitative services. The general practitioner and nursing services
are supplemented by various specialised services, that include
antenatal and postnatal clinics, Well Baby clinics, Gynae clinics,
diabetes clinics, ophthalmic clinics, psychiatric clinics, podology (Podiatric)
clinics, Physiotherapy, and Speech therapy and Language Pathology
clinic. Community nursing and midwifery services are provided by the
Malta Memorial District Nursing Association (MMDNA) on a contract
The Government's Health Centre system works side by side with a thriving
private sector, and many residents opt for the services of private
general practitioners and specialists who work in the primary care
Secondary and tertiary care
Secondary care and tertiary care are provided from a number of public hospitals,
the principal one being St Luke's Hospital, which has around
850 beds. St Luke's provides a full range of secondary and tertiary
medical services, including transplant surgery and open heart surgery.
The average length of stay in a general medical ward at St Luke's is 6
days, while in a general surgical ward it is 5 days.
Another 58 beds are available at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, which has an
oncology and dermatology unit, and 259 short / long stay beds are
available at Gozo General Hospital. At Mount Carmel Hospital
there are 563 psychiatric beds (short / long stay), while at Zammit
Clapp Hospital there are 60 specialised geriatric beds.
The Government has embarked on the building of a new 850-bed teaching
hospital next to the University that will succeed St Luke's Hospital
in the provision of acute secondary and tertiary services.
There are three private hospitals, St Philip's Hospital, with a capacity of 75
beds, in Santa Venera, Capua Palace Hospital, with 80 beds, in Sliema
and St James Hospital with 13 beds in Zabbar. St Mark's Clinic
with a capacity of 5 beds in Msida also offer private hospital