Human Trafficking in Malta
Malta rests in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. With a population of approximately 520,000, the nation is one of the most densely populated countries across the globe.

In the 1990s, Malta became a common host country for refugees fleeing from former Yugoslavian states and Iraq. As of 2020, reports indicate that most asylum seekers now arrive in Malta from Libya and Syria. The U.S. Department of State reported that one of the most vulnerable populations in Malta is refugees and asylum-seekers. Approximately 9,000 refugees and 4,000 asylum seekers currently reside in Malta. This demographic is increasingly more likely to become trafficked into Malta’s informal labor markets.

Malta: Tier 2 Watchlist

Malta has been identified by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the U.S. State Department as a destination country for trafficked persons. According to the U.S. Department of State, Malta falls on the Tier 2 watchlist for human trafficking standards. Despite efforts to raise public awareness, develop victim assistance services and implement training procedures for government officials the government of Malta fails to meet the minimum requirements to combat human trafficking. The government maintains very few records of human trafficking incidents and GRETA has actively called on Malta to increase its efforts to combat human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Efforts on the Ground

The Malta Police Force Vice-Squad initiated 16 investigations in 2020, 11 more than in 2019. Unfortunately, in 2021, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers.

Although the situation remains concerning, the government of Malta is still making efforts to end human trafficking in Malta. The Ministries for Home Affairs, Law Enforcement and National Security have engaged the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide guidance in implementing and training Maltese stakeholders on the ground. Maltese police officer recruitment now entails a three-month induction course and an annual two-week hands-on training service. In 2019, reports indicate the International Centre for Parliamentary studies conducted a five-day training on human trafficking procedures with the Maltese police force. In an effort to raise further awareness, an additional human trafficking prevention and protocol training event occurred for more than 150 diplomats, consuls and ambassadors working in Maltese Foreign Representations.

Efforts to Spread Awareness

In an effort to raise awareness among the general public and those at risk of falling victim to the human trafficking network, the national TVM channel aired a piece relating to human trafficking in Malta every day for three months. The national awareness campaign encourages members of the public to report any suspicious activity or leads of human trafficking cases in Malta.

In July 2019, the campaign “Human, like you” launched with the intention to inform the public about the underground human trafficking economy and its subsequent impact on the nation. The slogan is presented as a bar code representing how traffickers are marketing and selling human beings like objects. The campaign shares accounts from real-life victims of human trafficking and provides a safe space for reporting crimes. Overall, “Human, like you” gives a voice to the voiceless and empowers others to speak out and report suspicious activity.

Looking Ahead

In the modern world, awareness is key to bringing about change. The government’s efforts to implement training services and national television programs demonstrate that authorities have acknowledged the great risk traffickers pose to vulnerable populations. National campaigns aimed at spreading awareness and providing a voice to human trafficking victims provide a safe outlet for the general public. The collective efforts demonstrate that the nation recognizes the grave danger posed by human trafficking networks. This recognition alone paints a hopeful picture of an end to human trafficking in Malta.

– Sophie Caldwell
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in Malta
Malta — the EU’s smallest country by area — is hard to spot on a map, but its women’s rights activists are robust. Malta is the EU’s most densely populated country and has some of the highest rates of voter turnout in free elections in the world. The island’s more than 440,000 residents have a long history of advocating for change on the streets, behind desks and at the polls. In recent decades, women and their male allies focused on progressing women’s rights in Malta.

Defining Women’s Rights on a Global Scale

Women’s rights look different in each country. However, in general, those are the rights that aim to promote the legal and social equity and equality of all genders. As part of its commitment to advancing global gender equality using foreign policy, the U.S. Department of State identified four key policy priorities for empowering women across the globe: peace and security, economic empowerment, gender-based violence and adolescent girls.

Women in Government

Women in Malta have won an increasing number of seats in Parliament and the Cabinet through the years, but achieving peace and security is a ways away. In 2014, women in Malta made up just 13% of Parliament, the lowest share of women in a European national parliament. This is far from the representation that advocates for women’s rights in Malta want, but it is a small improvement.

Women have been running for government seats in Malta for the last 70 years, but their election success rate — even with its variation — has remained low. The country’s biggest weakness in its 2021 Gender Equality Index score was gender in politics. But, its strong economy, health care and workforce ultimately earned the country a score of 65 out of 100 — just three points below the EU.


Over the last decade, Malta has prioritized empowering women in economics. The country ranked 84th in last year’s Global Gender Gap Index, jumping six rankings from the year prior. However, women in the country are still tasked with vast amounts of unpaid domestic work which widens the economic gender gap and contributed to 45% of women working full time compared to 67% of men in 2021. According to the U.N. Women, women and girls spent 18.8% of their time doing unpaid work in 2021 compared to 7% spent by men and close to twice as many women are experiencing severe food insecurity.

Domestic Violence

With rising rates, women’s rights advocates consider domestic violence to be a gender-based violence crisis on the island. According to the 2014 Global Database on Violence Against Women, 15% of women have experienced violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime and 4% have experienced violence in the last year. Across the globe, rates of domestic violence against women skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Malta has not collected concrete data on gender-based violence since 2014 and government officials are worried the country could be facing concerningly high rates.

Birth Rate

Malta has a high adolescent birth rate. According to the World Bank, about 12 teenage girls gave birth per 1,000 — the highest adolescent birth rate in Southern Europe. Teenage girls with newborns experience immense difficulties pursuing education and employment. However, the Maltese government and women political leaders have tried to combat these hurdles. In 2013, the country introduced the Government’s Electoral Manifesto, which promised the Free Childcare Scheme. The program provides government-paid childcare to parents pursuing employment or education.

The Movement’s Political History

Since the country’s first election in 1947, women have fought hard for seats in government so they can advance policies and laws that promote women’s rights in Malta. In 2021, Malta’s Parliament brought a gender balance mechanism into law that adds more seats to the House if one gender wins less than 40% of seats. In 2014, women in government also achieved state-paid childcare and currently, all pregnant women receive cash benefits.

Looking Ahead

Currently, married fathers of newborns are only eligible for one day of parental leave in Malta. Predominantly young men and new fathers are advocating for parental leave so they can support mothers with unpaid domestic work at home. This could ultimately decrease the gender gap and strengthen women’s rights in Malta. With a petition to implement paternity and parental leave currently sitting in Parliament, the issue is expected to gain popularity in the coming years.

The leading non-governmental organization dedicated to progressing women’s rights in Malta is the Women’s Rights Foundation. By providing one of the first helplines for women and victims of gender-based violence to call, the organization is able to inform, educate and empower women concerning their legal rights. The group also advocates for policy and law reforms that protect women’s rights and bring an end to all violence against women and girls. The organization has repeatedly filed judicial letters on behalf of hundreds of women in an effort to make legal and political changes on the island.

There is little to no data on violence against women in the country, but these numbers are vital for women’s rights in Malta. In 2020, the U.N. had less than half of data on women than the amount it considers to be essential to closing gender gaps in the country. The U.N., the European Institute for Gender Equality and other organizations are making data collection in Malta a priority to ensure women’s rights moving forward.

– Delaney Murray
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 vaccinations in Malta
As of late May 2021, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations in Malta has allowed 70% of Malta’s adult population to receive at least one dose. The country’s decreasing COVID-19 cases and the success of the vaccine rollout offer hope to Maltese officials as they plan to reopen the country.

The Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccinations in Malta

Thanks to Malta’s increase in vaccinated citizens, hospitalizations have decreased by 95%. The country’s health minister, Chris Fearne, reported that 42% of adults are fully vaccinated. The country has administered Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines. On June 8, 2021, the country’s active COVID-19 cases dropped to just 70, with a report of only one new case. Malta is among the growing number of nations, such as Israel and Bhutan, that are reporting successful vaccine rollouts.

Malta’s Declaration of Herd Immunity

With the successful vaccine rollout, the Maltese government has declared herd immunity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced uncertainty about such declarations. Due to new COVID-19 variants, the proportion of the population requiring vaccination to achieve herd immunity is unknown. The new variants reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning vaccinated people may still be at risk.

According to the Bloomberg vaccination tracker, the 42% of the Maltese population that is fully vaccinated does not include children 16 and younger. As a result, the total percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated is only 36.5%. Despite its small population of only about 500,000 people, the country has reported more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 400 COVID-related deaths.

Looking Ahead

Though COVID-19 cases are falling in Malta, the U.K. has announced that it will not lift its Malta travel ban. When the U.K. revised its “green list” of countries whose citizens will not have to follow quarantine requirements upon entry, Malta was still not part of the list. However, other countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands have eased restrictions on traveling to Malta.

Although the majority of Malta’s adult population has received vaccinations, the mask mandate will remain in place until July 1, 2021. After July 1, fully vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks outdoors as long as COVID-19 cases stay relatively low.

As the country reopens and allows travelers to visit again, the Maltese government has set a new requirement for people entering the country: a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test. The government will also provide incentives to visitors, such as hotel and scuba diving vouchers, to promote tourism and boost the economy.

Maltese citizens will also need vaccine certificates in order to attend certain public gatherings. The certificates will act as proof for citizens who have received COVID-19 vaccinations in Malta. Fearne reports that as of June 10, 2021, Maltese people have downloaded more than 60,000 vaccine certificates.

The success of Malta’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout inspires hope for other countries. With more vaccine diplomacy and less vaccine nationalism, more countries can progress toward achieving herd immunity.

– Jordyn Gilliard
Photo: Unsplash

How Malta is Tackling Elderly PovertyIn Malta, elderly people are not considered as vulnerable as the working class when it comes to being at risk of poverty. However, in 2016, almost 25% of elderly people in Malta were at risk of poverty. The Maltese government has since stepped in to tackle elderly poverty. Here is the current situation with elderly poverty in Malta and an outline of actions to address it.

The Current Situation in Malta

Malta’s elderly poverty rate is higher than the EU average of 21%. Malta recently increased its 2008 median income to supposedly lower the poverty rate, but it did the opposite. The same result became true for Malta’s GDP. The country experienced a higher-than-average GDP growth over the past few years; however, poverty grew with it. This has been shown to significantly impact working populations but not so much the elderly population, thus making elderly people less vulnerable to poverty.

There is also a bit of a gender gap in terms of at-risk poverty for the elderly in Malta. About 20% of elderly women in Malta are at-risk of poverty whereas 15% of men are at risk of poverty. However, the gender gap in Malta is lower than the EU average by a few percentage points.

There is also severe material deprivation in Malta but the rate is not high enough to make a significant impact. Material deprivation occurs when a person cannot afford things that are desired or necessary for everyday life from utilities to annual holidays to household goods like a washer or a car. Material deprivation is measured under nine categories. If someone cannot afford three things from the nine categories, the person suffers from material deprivation. If someone cannot afford four things under the nine categories, the person suffers from severe material deprivation.

Malta’s rate of severe material deprivation has decreased over the years from more than 10% in 2014 to about 4% in 2016. This is possibly due to the rise in median income as well as a drop in unemployment. It could also be due to the rise in pensions and benefits for the elderly over the years.

What the Maltese Government is Doing to Combat Elderly Poverty

The National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion is one measure to tackle elderly poverty in Malta. The policy is based on six categories vital for the well-being of people and aims to combat high poverty levels. The categories include income and social benefits, employment, education, health and environment, social services and culture. The strategic actions act as a safety net on a preventative and interventionist level.

Government-funded programs and policies involving pension funding and benefits for the elderly also help to tackle elderly poverty. One program is the Full Pension Entitlement program. This program is for elderly people still working at their retirement age. Since the program’s introduction in 2014, more than 10,000 people have benefited from the program.

Another program is the Senior Citizen’s Grant. This grant gives out a €300 annual allowance for people older than 75. This grant has helped almost 30,000 people. The government also gives out bonuses to retirees who do not have pension entitlements. These bonuses help more women than men and have benefited more than 12,000 people in 2016. Finally, the government created the Draft National Strategy for Retirement Income and Financial Literacy. This draft aims to educate people on the importance of planning people’s retirement early as well as establishing campaigns to assist people in making wise financial choices for retirement.

Older generations in Malta may not be as vulnerable as the working class or young people, but elderly poverty is still an issue in Malta. With these new policies and programs aiming to help elderly people in Malta, there is hope to eradicate elderly poverty and improve the quality of life for the elderly population in Malta.

– Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Malta
Malta is a picturesque country located in the Mediterranean, home to half a million people. While it is a tiny nation, healthcare in Malta is some of the best in the world. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Malta fifth out of more than 100 countries for its healthcare system. Other independent studies have found it to place even higher. Residents of Malta can choose between a public healthcare plan and purchasing a private one, and there are even options for tourists.

Citizens of Malta and other nations in the European Union have the option of receiving public healthcare or obtaining their own private insurance. The public healthcare plan is available to all citizens, legal residents who pay social security contributions and retirees. Taxes fund public health insurance, which covers any visits to public hospitals. It also covers a wide variety of conditions and issues, ranging from childbirth to rehabilitation. The plan includes special treatment as well, such as therapy and visits to special clinics. Due to the small size of Malta, it is fairly easy for residents to seek medical care no matter where they are. Public hospitals are easily accessible, with a total of eight spread across the country, as well as a network of smaller clinics and pharmacies.

Accessibility of Private Insurance

Some people will opt for private health insurance, which gives them a greater pool of doctors and hospitals to choose from. As public insurance does not cover non-E.U. citizens, they must also purchase a private plan. Private insurance is becoming increasingly popular; people often think that it is faster and easier to receive treatment this way. Costs vary depending on what the plan covers and most companies offer a range of options to suit the needs of each individual or family. Healthcare costs are generally very reasonable. Many residents will choose private insurance over the public one: an indication of how affordable healthcare in Malta is.

Citizens can also choose to rely primarily on the public healthcare system and pay for visits to private hospitals or clinics as they go. Medical costs and medicines are extremely affordable when compared to countries like the United States, so this is not an uncommon practice. A visit to the doctor will only cost about $20, and a visit to the specialist may cost $65.

Tourists and people on short visits from the E.U. nation can consider applying for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will provide the same coverage as a local would receive from the public healthcare plan.


Residents of Malta have the freedom to either rely on the country’s public healthcare system or buy private insurance. The public insurance covers visits to any public hospital as well as a wide range of treatments and conditions. While it is a competent plan, some people choose to pay for a private plan. Private insurance provides a greater number of doctors and practitioners to choose from, allowing for visits to private hospitals and clinics. Private insurance providers typically offer several plans designated for the different needs of clients. Citizens are also free to rely mostly on public healthcare and pay for visits to private practices out of pocket.

People who lack access to healthcare are at a greater risk of falling into poverty, and poor health conditions keep people trapped in poverty. The cost of medical services can be a huge burden on individuals and their families. Women and children may have to leave school in order to help their families earn money, causing an education disparity which only leads to more severe impoverishment. A good healthcare system is paramount to reduce poverty in a nation. Malta’s public healthcare system offers its benefits and services to everyone, keeping Maltese citizens out of poverty.

Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malta
Considerable progress has occurred regarding addressing poverty in Malta. Malta has experienced substantial increases in its GDP, with a real GDP growth rate of 5.4% 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 its ability to effectively address poverty.


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). The World Bank is also measuring progress in addressing poverty in Malta. It 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 environmental challenges. 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 environmental changes 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 weather changes, 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 changing climate. 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 necessary to resolve environmental challenges and the gender employment gap in Malta, the country is well on its way to meeting its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

– 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