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
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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

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