Opinion - John Dalli | Wednesday, 02 March 2008
Excerpts from Minister for Social Policy John Dalli’s speech at the 10th overseas meeting of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland held earlier this month
Malta has a long tradition in medicine going back to Neolithic times. Malta had a flourishing medical practice in the Middle Ages and of course with the advent of the Knights Hospitallier Order of St John, of which you will hear much more over the next couple of days, the practice of medicine and surgery reached very sophisticated levels. Our hospital service and medical school have steadily progressed since Malta, has always believed strongly in being of service to the sick, the elderly, the needy and the disadvantaged in our society. Our mission is to do this more efficiently and effectively.
The government has shown its commitment to the Health Services by embarking on a major project to build a state of the art hospital which opened its doors in November 2007. Mater Dei is one of the most modern hospitals in the Mediterranean. We must now ensure that the state of the art structure and hardware is complimented by a state of the art service in both quality and delivery. We are committed to provide the best service possible to our citizens and to develop as a centre of quality medical services in the region. To achieve this we are calling on the commitment of all players and we will be tapping the knowledge and technology that exists worldwide to enhance our technology base and operations.
This is in line with the government’s general objective to turn Malta into a centre of excellence in such areas as education, specialised training, industry, medical services, financial services and ICT. As an EU member state Malta recognises that its mission also has a regional dimension. Our location, our infrastructure and our skilled labour force provide the right platform to launch this country into this global orbit. We need to keep moving forward. Standing still is not an option.
The plan of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to expand its services by setting up a medical school offering a graduate entry programme in Malta falls within our plans. On one hand, the RCSI must have made their own assessment of the competences of its Maltese colleges in the field and must believe in the wealth of resources that it can tap into to run a successful programme. On the other hand we believe that the presence of such a distinguished institute within our education system will strengthen the overall high standards already existing in this country.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Government and the RCSI on the 20th December 2007 to kick start this relationship and open the possibility of detailed negotiations which I hope will get expeditiously under way amongst all interested parties. It is our interest that these negotiations will be concluded positively in the shortest time possible.
With such a positive outcome behind us, we can then explore other areas of collaboration with RCSI, like their ability to run clinical postgraduate training programmes across the entire spectrum of the various specialities in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. I look forward to fruitful programmes with the free and full involvement of our own specialist bodies for the benefit of all.
We pride ourselves with our Institute of Health Care. We can also seek potential areas of collaboration with RCSI in their specialist services given through their school of Surgery, Dental School, School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing. Excellence means making quantum leaps in technological issue, and we know that such quantum leaps can only be possible through global partnerships.
We note that an expansion of our training programmes in pharmaceutical disciplines especially in the specialised area of Industrial Pharmacy will make it possible for us to give the required support to the pharmaceutical industry through the expansion of our capacity to provide the sophisticated skilled manpower needed of these companies. This will enhance our credentials as a location to attract this high added value industrial sector to Malta.
Our thrust to increase our country’s competitiveness and to achieve the targets set by the Lisbon Agenda have to rest on increasing our research potential. I am pleased that the MOU signed between government and the RCSI also covers collaboration in clinical research. It is our wish that this gives the opportunity and the possibility for Maltese scientists to partner with the RCSI Research Institute on specific research projects and that this will eventually develop our own successful Research Institute. I am sure that this collaboration will be better able to attract substantial NIH and EU grants which will enable us to carry out truly meaningful research.
This will also make it possible for us to retain our professionals and even to reverse the brain drain that we had over the years as we will be providing them with rewarding activities our country.
We cannot be insular or protective. To achieve our aims we must be prepared to link with the outside world. This is the only way that Malta can ride the tidal waves of political, social and economic upheavals as well as the technological leaps that we will experience with increased intensity in the coming years. We have to keep focused on our ultimate objective which is to improve the life of our citizens, our patients and particularly the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society.
02 April 2008
ISSUE NO. 529