The Maltese health system: sustainability concerns with an ageing population

This new HiT health system review on Malta discusses many achievements that have occurred in the health system since the last HiT report was published in 1999. Two key events in the past decade have contributed to the further development of the health system. Malta’s accession to the European Union in 2004 played an important role guiding new legislation in public health and health protection. The construction of the new acute general hospital Mater Dei Hospital in 2007 was significant in shaping the flow of capital resources. Important reforms include the use of health technology assessment to define the benefit package, improvements in access to medicines through the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme, and expansion of prevention and community-based services.

While Maltese citizens enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in Europe, the ageing of the population is already putting pressure on public finances. Current policies that are often geared towards hospitalization and institutionalization of older people are costly and contribute towards inefficient utilization of resources. Successfully managing this issue will require strategic investments and efforts to shift care away from hospitals and into the community. The new National Health Systems Strategy under development will help to provide direction.