The recent public announcement by the Minister of Health, The Honourable Dr. Joe Cassar, regarding an expansion of the number of diseases included under Schedule V is to be applauded. To those uninitiated in the myriad complexities of the Maltese state-run healthcare system, any disease listed under Schedule V of the Medicines Act is considered to be chronic and therefore any citizen of the Maltese Islands suffering from a disease classified as such, is entitled to free, unlimited treatment, at least with respect to pharmaceutical care. Also announced were an increase in the number of patients entitled to free glucose testing kits and replacement strips.Read the full article here: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20111012/local/reform-of-free-medicines-system-announced.388858.
This is a step in the right direction, as Malta has often been criticised by other members of the European Union on the grounds that a number of chronic, debilitating diseases were being excluded from state-provided care systems, and thus discriminating against those afflicted by them.
What is, on the other hand, a worrying fact, is that no statistics whatsoever have been presented to back up the manner in which this increase in the disbursement of funds is to supported. Whether there is to be an increase in the budget allocated to pharmaceutical care, or there are to cuts in the same said budget, or in other areas of the global healthcare budget, remains to be seen. From an observer's point of view, these are the questions that need to be answered, and soon, as any improvements to the public healthcare system need to be sustainable and approached with long-term benefits to the patient in mind.