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