Launch of joint report on Malta’s health-system capacity to manage large migration

Department of Information, Malta

Representatives of the Ministry for Energy and Health, the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security, the Malta Red Cross and WHO/Europe in Valletta, Malta.

On 16–17 June 2015, the Maltese Ministry for Energy and Health and WHO/Europe presented the joint report "Malta: assessing health-system capacity to manage sudden, large influxes of migrants" in Valletta, Malta. The report is a response to the growing need to coordinate and strengthen the preparedness, response and capacity of Malta's health system, as those of other European countries, facing an increased inflow of migrant populations.

The launch of the report was attended by a wide variety of experts from the Ministry for Energy and Health, the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security including the Police and Civil Protection, the Malta Red Cross and WHO/Europe.

The migration phenomenon in Malta

As stated in the assessment report, from 2002 to June 2013, 16 974 migrants arrived in Malta by sea reaching a peak in 2008 of 2775 migrants arriving in 84 boats. In 2011, the Libyan crisis resulted in an influx of almost 21 000 people to the country. Despite a recent decrease in the number of migrants, Malta is located on the migration route and is a popular destination for thousands of migrants coming from Middle Eastern and African countries. Given the size of the country, with a population of around 450 000 inhabitants, the number of newly arrived migrants can pose a great challenge for its public services.

The assessment mission

The joint mission took place on 25–29 November 2013, and the assessment team consisted of experts from the Ministry for Energy and Health; the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC); the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (ICMHD); a temporary WHO Migration Health Adviser seconded by the Portuguese Ministry of Health; and staff from WHO/Europe. Malta was the third country (after Italy and Portugal) to be assessed using the WHO toolkit for assessing health-system capacity to manage large and sudden influxes of migrants. The aim of this toolkit and assessment mission was to support health authorities and partners to identify gaps, to build on existing capacities and to develop informed public health interventions to adequately respond to influxes of migrants in Malta.