Poverty in Malta
Considerable progress has been made in addressing poverty in Malta. Malta has experienced substantial increases in its GDP, with a real GDP growth rate of 6.7% in 2017. The unemployment rate in 2018 was also relatively low at 3.7%, exhibiting a -2.5% change from 2012, compared to the European Union average of 6.8%. Malta has further experienced a positive improvement in almost all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty and zero hunger. In addition, Malta is among one of the fastest-growing economies within the E.U., further exhibiting their ability to effectively address poverty.

What Is Being Done?

The government of Malta is fighting poverty through its National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and for Social Inclusion 2014-2024. The strategy works to address poverty in Malta through a focus on income and benefits, employment, education, health and environment, social services and culture.

The national strategy has been successful in that it has led to continued increases in the figures for At Risk of Poverty and Social Exclusion (AROPE). Progress addressing poverty in Malta is also being measured by the World Bank, which found that from 2010 to 2015 the income of the bottom 40% in Malta experienced a 3.6% increase, a growth rate faster than the average of the total population.

Pushing Forward Further Progress

While Malta has experienced considerable improvements in addressing the 2030 SDGs, progress has stalled in addressing sustainable consumption and production, inequality and climate change. Malta has put forth policies to push forward progress with regard to these stalled SDGs.

The reform package measure “Making Work Pay” works to address inequalities through the introduction of a guaranteed minimum pension, reduced income tax and introduction and extension of in-work benefits. The success of these measures is evident through the country’s low unemployment rate and rising GDP. Additionally, gender inequalities continue to persist in terms of employment. However, the rate of women in employment has seen a considerable increase in recent years. The fact that the gender employment gap has reduced by 4.6% from 2015 to 2018 demonstrates this.

Despite the fact that progress addressing climate change in Malta has stalled, when compared to other countries within the E.U., Malta is among the countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Malta’s Sustainable Development Vision for 2050 addresses the lack of progress in regard to climate change, as well as envisions the eradication of poverty and social exclusion.

Tourism in Malta

The Maltese government is also using tourism, a major contributor to their economic development, as a means of pushing forward the green economic transition and progress towards sustainable consumption and production and climate change. The restoration of historical and cultural sites in the country is making this progress possible. One such example is the restoration of the Grand Master’s Palace in Malta. Tourism contributes to the alleviation of poverty in Malta by increasing economic opportunities and generating taxable economic growth which can be used towards poverty alleviation.

While work is still needed in Malta in areas such as climate change and the gender employment gap, poverty in Malta is well on its way to meeting its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

Malta is a small island republic in the central Mediterranean Sea. Like most other EU member states, the Maltese government operates a socialized health care scheme. However, life expectancy in Malta is a full year higher than the European Union average, for both males and females. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Malta.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Malta

  1. Trends: Life expectancy in Malta ranks 15th globally and continues to rise; the current average life expectancy is 82.6, an improvement of 4.6 percent this millennium. Median life expectancy on the archipelago is expected to improve at that same rate through 2050, reaching an average death age of 86.4.
  2. Leading Causes of Death: The WHO pinpointed coronary heart disease as the republic’s number one killer, accounting for 32.46 percent of all deaths in 2018. Additional top killers include stroke (10.01 percent) and breast cancer (3.07 percent).
  3. Health Care System: Malta’s sophisticated and comprehensive state-managed health care system embodies universal coverage for the population. Although population growth and an aging workforce present long-term challenges, the Maltese have access to universal public health care as well as private hospitals. Malta’s health care spending and doctors per capita are above the EU average. Despite this, specialists remain fairly low. Currently, the government is working to address this lack of specialized care.
  4. Infant and Maternal Health: The high life expectancy in Malta is positively impacted by low infant and maternal mortality rates. Malta’s infant and maternal mortality rates are among the lowest in the world, ranking at 181 and 161, respectively. The Maltese universal health care system provides free delivery and postpartum care for all expectant mothers. These measures provided as the standard of care have minimized the expectant death rates of new mothers to 3.3 out of 100,000.
  5. Women’s Health: Like most other developed nations, Maltese women experience longer lives than men. Comparatively, WHO data predicts that women will live nearly four years longer, an average of 83.3 years to 79.6. Interestingly, the estimated gender ratio for 2020 indicates that the Malta population will skew to be slightly more male, specifically in the 65-and-over age bracket. 
  6. Sexual and Reproductive Health: Sexual health services, including family planning and STD treatment, are free of cost in Malta. Additionally, HIV prevalence is very low, at only 0.1 percent in 2016. These measures have certainly played a role in life expectancy in Malta.
  7. Violent Crime: Although crime rates typically spike during the summer, Malta’s tourist season, violence is generally not a concern. Despite fluctuations throughout the year, the national homicide rate remains low. Currently, homicide is resting at 0.9 incidents per 100,000 citizens.
  8. Obesity: Recently, 29.8 percent of the population was found to be obese, one of the highest figures in the EU. Even higher rates of obesity have been found in Maltese adolescents: 38 percent of 11-year-old boys and 32 percent of 11-year-old girls qualify as obese.
  9. Birth Rates: Sluggish population growth is typical throughout the developed world and Malta is no exception. Current data places the population growth rate at an estimated 0.87 percent. Out of 229 sovereign nations, Malta’s birth rate was ranked 192nd with 9.9 births per 1,000 citizens.
  10. Access to Medical Facilities: The competitive health care system supports high life expectancy in Malta by providing an abundant availability of hospitals and physicians per capita. Due to the archipelago’s small population, 4.7 hospital beds and 3.8 doctors exist for every 1,000 citizens.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Malta highlight the strength of the health care system in the country. While rising rates of obesity are concerning, Malta has a strong track record of investing in the well-being of its citizens.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in MaltaLocated in the middle of the Mediterranean, south of Italy, Malta is a country made up of a small set of islands full of life and unique culture. Geographically, Malta is just smaller than twice the size of Washington, D.C. and home to nearly 450,000 inhabitants. From 1814 to 1964, Malta was a British colony but has since established itself as a republic, become a member of the European Union and adopted the euro as its currency. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Malta

  1. Malta was the only member of the EU not to have legalized divorce up until 2011. Until then, if married couples wanted to divorce, they had to leave the country to do so. This is largely due to the Roman Catholic Church’s influence over the country’s more than 95 percent Catholic population. The legislation went into effect beginning October 2011, despite opposition from even the prime minister, who worried legalizing divorce would “weaken the family structure in Malta.”
  2. The most common form of transportation in Malta is driving by car. The country permits tourists to bring cars over to the islands for a maximum of six months. There are also rental cars available for those of age. Subsequently, traffic is highly congested. Alternative modes of transportation include taxis, buses and the karrozzin, traditional horse-drawn carriages that have been in use in Malta since the mid-19th century.
  3. Malta’s government offers comprehensive varieties of health care, as well as high-quality dental care, to citizens. People can find multiple pharmacies as well, along with two main hospitals and many health centers. Although Maltese is the main official language of the islands, people speak English across all hospitals, health care facilities and pharmacies.
  4. While Malta is not really a point of conflict or transnational problems, it does have a military branch named the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). This military branch includes all aspects; air, naval and land. While there are not any real international relations issues, Malta does serve as a transshipment point for transportation of hashish — coming from cannabis — from North Africa into Western Europe.
  5. Britain’s military presence in Malta had a massive impact on the country’s economy up until its independence in 1964. Because Malta lacks enough natural resources and has a small, domestic economic market, it relies heavily on other nations for imports. The Maltese economy also leans on the shipbuilding and repair industry, but even that is becoming depleted further and further since gaining independence.
  6. In Malta, 29.8 percent of the population is obese, causing the country to rank 28th in the world for obesity. This is likely due to Maltese citizens’ heavy reliance on cars as opposed to walking or cycling. While some use bicycles, bicycling is largely unpopular due to the poor road conditions and heavy traffic. When not on main roads, it is a bit easier to navigate the streets on a bicycle, making it an increasingly popular mode of transportation.
  7. Literacy rates among citizens 15 years and older are essentially the same at 88 percent. The Maltese Constitution warrants that both men and women have equal rights in terms of employment. Malta established The Ministry of Social Development and Equal Status for Women and has allowed for more married women to participate in the workforce.
  8. Malta expanded education systems to include compulsory schooling for children ages five to 16 in the mid-1980s. As of 2005, Malta further reformed its the education system to include regional colleges that incorporated primary and secondary school educations in addition to a junior college. Malta also has two forms of higher education, the University of Malta at Msida and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology.
  9. Malta imports an abundance of fossil fuels in order to supply its energy. As Malta’s only natural mineral resource is limestone, used in construction, it has extremely limited clean energy resources.
  10. The youth unemployment rate in Malta is 10.30 percent as of April 2019. While this is not a huge portion of the population, youths (those under the age of 24) make up 11.44 percent of the Maltese population.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Malta highlight that, in spite of the country’s tumultuous history, it has persisted. While there are aspects Malta must improve upon such as transportation reliance and employment rates, Malta is a tiny country with an impressive development story.

Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

The island nation of Malta, located off the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea, has been ruled by a variety of nations over the centuries because of its strategic location in the sea. It was not until 1964 that it received its independence from the United Kingdom. It is one of the world’s smallest countries, but it still has its struggles, especially with hunger in Malta.

In 2015, it was reported that 16.3 percent of the Maltese population was in poverty. Additionally, the percentage of children under 18 and adults over 65 who were victims of poverty were 23.4 and 21 percent respectively. Hunger in Malta is obviously linked to poverty, because these people cannot afford to adequately feed themselves and their families. Many even said they were unable to keep their homes warm enough during the winter.

There are currently 21,000 children at risk of poverty in Malta, most of whom come from large families or single-parent households. In both cases, the household income is below the poverty line and is not enough to feed them or give them a decent upbringing. Children from these families cannot even begin to think about getting an education because their nutritional needs are barely being met.

While there has been a relatively steady, albeit small, reduction in the rate of hunger and poverty in Malta, under the administration prior to that of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat there was a significant increase. The poverty rate jumped from 20 to 24 percent and food prices were rapidly increasing, making it even more difficult for Maltese people to feed their families. The very slowly growing income rate has not been able to counteract the rapidly rising cost of living in Malta.

While it has been said that Muscat has “no interest” in addressing the challenges of people of low economic status, he at least pledged to increase the minimum wage. While this is not by any means a grand plan for the reduction of poverty and hunger in Malta, it is at least a step in the right direction. Additionally, the previous head of the National Party indicated his hopes for the improvement of conditions for Maltese people in poverty, indicating that the party would do what it could to decrease poverty.

In December 2014, an official plan was set in place for poverty reduction. The plan from the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity puts 94 strategic actions in place through 2024.These strategies address poverty from specific angles such as social services, health and environment, culture, income and social benefits, education and employment. However, there are flaws in this plan too, as the ministry says part of the plan is to “empower vulnerable groups to become less welfare dependent.” This does not imply any concrete action, and suggests that Maltese people in poverty can simply “become” wealthier.

There is much to be done in Malta, and hopefully the government will put in place more concrete strategies for lifting their people out of poverty and reducing hunger. Until then, the ten-year plan will have to suffice, and should have some positive impact on people in poverty.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in MaltaThe island of Malta is a mixed bag when it comes to health. On the one hand, the average life expectancy in Malta is 80 years, up from 75 years in 1990. On the other hand, there are still some recurring – and even increasing – health problems, courtesy of some of the common diseases in Malta.

Malta boasts one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world; however, adult obesity is also a common disease in the country. Malta has developed the Healthy Weight for Life Strategy 2012 as a response, among other initiatives. Ischemic heart disease is the biggest cause of fatalities, responsible for 22 percent of all deaths in Malta in 2003. In addition, Malta has the highest rate of diabetes in Europe, despite an average calorie consumption comparable to much of the rest of the continent. This can be attributed to the high rate of sugar consumption in Malta.

A number of common diseases in Malta stem from the high rates of smoking there. Fortunately, the Ministry of Health has taken steps to inform the populace about the dangers of smoking. To this end Malta has ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003. Asthma is also common in Malta, partially because of the aforementioned popularity of cigarettes, but also due to the hot and humid climate.

There is still some good news regarding Malta’s general health. Some of this can be credited to Malta joining the European Union in 2004. Although also common diseases in Malta, the rates of cardiovascular diseases and cancer have been going down. In addition, Malta has taken a number of steps to be more proactive about mental health, such as the Mental Health Act of 2013, which was implemented to protect the rights of mental health patients. There have also been plans to address the needs of dementia sufferers.

While there are still a number of serious common diseases in Malta along with some other continuing health concerns, it is clear that the country is taking steps in the right direction to combat these diseases and hopefully the country will continue to see progress into the future.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Pixabay

Causes of Poverty in Malta

For the island nation of Malta, poverty is an issue that must be addressed, especially with recent data that suggests that not only is poverty a persistent issue within this country, but also an issue that is on the rise. The causes of poverty in Malta are important to understand in order to address this issue.

Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Italy, and is comprised of a population of over 400,000 people. Of the 400,000 people who live on this island, 16.3 percent live below the poverty line, according to a 2015 estimate. Furthermore, according to European Union (EU) statistics, Malta is one of 14 European countries that experienced an increase in poverty between 2008 and 2014. After Greece, Spain and Cyprus, Malta experienced the fourth greatest increase in poverty during this period.

One cause of poverty in Malta is unemployment; an estimated 4.8 percent of Maltese people are unemployed. Nevertheless, there are many positive signs which indicate positive growth for Malta’s economy that could alleviate unemployment for many. The Maltese economy is strongly dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing and tourism, which have contributed to an economy that has grown 4.5 percent per year – the largest growth of any European country between 2014 and 2016.

There are also certain groups of Maltese people who are more vulnerable to being affected by poverty. Those that have been victims of violence and neglect, the mentally ill, immigrants, the disabled and those from single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty and therefore rely on social services. In particular, poverty affects the elderly – those over 65 – on this island at a significantly higher rate – 22 percent – than other age groups in the population. Many of those who are particularly vulnerable to poverty have also been pushed in that direction by falling into a pattern of being heavily indebted.

Despite the recent trend toward poverty, Malta is largely heading in a positive direction. Economically, the country is thriving and this economic growth could increase the unemployment rate and be used to further guarantee social services that could alleviate poverty for at-risk groups of people. Nonetheless, there is still a lot of work to be done and the causes of poverty in Malta need to be addressed fully in order to see progress.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

In 2015, statistics showed that hunger and poverty in Malta have become a consistent issue. Moreover, 16.3 percent of the population was considered “at-risk” for monetary poverty. The average disposable income for individual households was less than EUR 26,000 per year.

The phenomena of hunger and poverty in Malta, as well as severe material deprivation, results from several factors. These include low income, social exclusion and low work intensity. Nearly half of the Maltese population has indicated an inability to afford even one week of vacation during the year.

Individuals living in single family homes face the greatest risk of falling below the median poverty threshold. When there is one less person in the home, there is one less steady income.

According to the Nationalist Party (NP), poverty levels continue to rise for the Maltese population. The cost of food, fuel and medicine increase steadily, despite a recent yet slight increase in job salaries. As a result, those living in impoverished states continue to face the unfortunate repercussions of low income levels.

Furthermore, the increase in costs for the basic necessities of life has had a ripple effect on lower income individuals who were already struggling. Therefore, the slight rise in income levels has not been able to offset the rising costs of living.

In 2016, 21,000 Maltese children were classified as being at risk for poverty — 28.2 percent of the population. In response to the disconcerting rates of hunger and poverty in Malta, the NP has voiced its discontent by citing a lack of care by the country’s current government. According to the NP, the number of at-risk persons has risen to 94,250. Eighty-eight thousand individuals were at risk prior to the last election.

There are roughly 24,000 children who come from low-income families facing material deprivations including food deprivation. Their families are in grave need of social assistance from the government. Furthermore, suggested solutions for eradicating poverty and social exclusion include “investing in more educational equality and in strengthening the family,” as well as providing adequate support for individuals who cannot work due to mental or physical problems.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

On the surface, the Maltese educational system provides multiple models for ensuring academic success for its citizens. Pre-school, primary, secondary and post-secondary education in Malta is free for all students up to a graduate degree level. Religious organizations and the private sector also contribute to granting Maltese citizens educational opportunities through government subsidies.

These multiple avenues for educational development have resulted in increasingly better-educated generations. As of 2006, the net enrollment ratio was 95 percent in pre-primary aged children, 91 percent in primary and 70 percent in post-secondary education. Additionally, reports showed that 97 percent of youth and 92 percent of adults were considered literate in 2006.

In 2012, however, Malta faced decreasing literacy rates among 15-year-olds and a growing gender disparity in reading skills. Experts predicted that if the rates continued to stall, the country would fall short of one of Europe’s top goals. The continent is aiming to reach functional literacy among 85 percent in that age group by the year 2020.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) cites the primary cause of decreasing literacy to be regional and socioeconomic disparities. The National Literacy Survey (NLS) tested the phonological, literacy, reading and writing skills of students aged six to seven years. Consequently, the study determined that children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to possess the learning skills necessary to succeed in school.

The survey also determined a potential cause of low-performance rates to be a lack of parental involvement in school affairs.

In response to this finding, the Foundation for Educational Services (FES) established family-centered literacy programs. The FES provides a range of educational programs including family literacy training and parental empowerment in the education sector. These programs were designed to cooperate with formal education systems to inspire lifelong learning. The FES is funded by the Maltese government, the European Union and the HSBC Cares for Children Fund.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

 Refugees in Malta Facts
Situated by the Mediterranean Sea, the island country of Malta has long been a safe haven for refugees. Although Malta is geographically and economically small, its location between Europe and North Africa makes it a logical first step for refugees seeking a new life in Europe. Discussed below are 10 facts about refugees in Malta.

Top 10 Facts about Refugees in Malta

  1. Malta created its Office of the Refugee Commissioner (ORC) in 2001 and it began functioning in 2002. Since then, the country has received more than 15,000 asylum seekers, primarily from the Middle East and Africa.
  2. Approximately 93% of migrants arriving in Malta by boat are asylum seekers, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch.
  3. Malta often acts as a temporary home for refugees. Less than 30% of the 19,000 Libyan refugees in Malta housed since 2002 remain there, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates. Refugees in Malta have a document that permits them to travel, and many choose to leave the country voluntarily.
  4. In order to keep families together, refugees’ dependent family members receive the same rights and benefits as the refugee.
  5. In 2011, Malta concluded the first European Refugee Fund project, which aimed to improve the information applicants receive about refugee rights and obligations. The project was such a success that the ORC hosted a conference in order to help the Maltese community get to know and connect with local refugees.

  1. Malta operates five mobile offices for refugee services in order to hold information sessions about the asylum procedure for third-country nationals or individuals who belong in neither the country of refuge nor the country they fled.
  2. Due to Malta’s location, many refugees end up in the country unintentionally. Malta is responsible for search and rescue in a large area of the Mediterranean Sea stretching from Tunisia to Crete, Greece and Sicily and Italy to Libya, and is, therefore, a popular transport hub for asylum seekers.
  3. Malta ranked 10th out of the countries with the most refugees per capita, with 14 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, according to a UNHCR report.
  4. Malta’s fertility rate is below the EU average. However, the population has continued to grow in the last few years because of a large number of refugees and other immigrants.
  5. Only 9.2% of asylum seekers in Malta receive refugee status. The majority, 62.1%, receive subsidiary protection status. This allows them some, though not all, of the rights given to refugees.

Despite crowding and tight resources, refugees in Malta are working together to create a sense of community and home despite being so far away from their own.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Major Diseases in Malta: A Continuing Struggle
Known for being a premier island for holiday travel, Malta is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Europe. Since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1964, the island of Malta has made substantial improvements to all sectors of government, including their health care system.

Diseases in Malta are generally under control in part due to the fact that the country has made extensive progress in improving its health care system. According to the WHO, “The health care system is relatively equitable and comprehensive. The health care reforms are well focused on sustainability and quality based on an integrated and holistic approach.”

However, even with these advances to their health care system, many diseases in Malta are still present and increasing within the nation. Major diseases in Malta fall under the category of non-communicable diseases. These diseases range from bronchial asthma to obesity, to heart disease and cancer.

In 2003, ischaemic heart disease was the most deadly disease in Malta, killing almost 22 percent of the population that year. Studies have shown that both Maltese women and men over the age of 30 have a higher percentage of dying from ischaemic heart disease than the average European individual.

Uterine as well as breast cancer is also a major concern in Malta. Research indicates that death rates for these particular types of cancer, in Malta, are above average than other European nations. Additionally, death rates for cervical, ovarian and pancreatic cancer have decreased within Malta, but the percentages are still above European averages.

Despite the majority of diseases in Malta being non-communicable, the CDC also recommends that for those traveling into the country to have their routine vaccines as well as vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever and rabies current and up to date.

In 2013, both an improved Mental Health Act and a general Health Act were approved by the government of Malta. These improvements have helped to steadily decrease rates of cancer and obesity while also helping those with mental diseases. The new Mental Health Act has seen tremendous success by promoting community treatment and securing the rights of mental health patients.

The government of Malta has sequentially promoted a plethora of health strategies such as the Non-Communicable Disease strategy in 2010, the National Cancer Plan in 2011, the Sexual Health strategy in 2011, the Tuberculosis Prevention strategy in 2012 and the Healthy Weight for Life strategy in 2012. These strategies were designed in order to promote health and prevention methods on a national scale.

Moreover, efforts to reduce diseases in Malta are both ever-constant and ever-changing thanks to the participation of the Maltese people and their government. These positive changes will ensure that rates of non-communicable diseases will continue to decrease while promoting a happy, healthy and well-engaged society.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr