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20th October 2023

Malta’s Minister Jo Etienne Abela’s vision for innovation and patient-centered healthcare

Malta’s Minister for active ageing Dr Jo Etienne Abela, delivered a keynote address at the Malta Med-Tech World Summit this morning at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta. He shared some historical insights relating to the building where the conference took place and  known as ‘The Sacra Infermeria’. Minister Abela referred to the enduring mission of the Order of St. John that converted the building into Europe’s longest hospital ward.  He spoke about how Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner established the first school of medicine in the country.

At that time, Abela said, even the patients in this medical institution were privileged with silver-plated dining ware!

Vision for the future of healthcare

Minister Abela went on to speak about how modern society has evolved into being so consumer-driven and at the same time people are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about their healthcare.

As a result, people are more inclined to actively participate in decisions affecting their well-being. The Minister said he believes that the global responsibility of governments is to empower patients and place them at the heart of the decision-making process.

The Minister turned his attention to the conference’s pharmaceutical section, where patient safety was a prominent theme.

Inaugration of Med-IN PHARMA

Yesterday, as President of the Malta Medicines Authority Minister Jo Etienne Abela inaugurated Med-IN PHARMA. (in photo above).

At the opening address of the pharma launch,  Hon. Dr. Jo-Etienne Abella expressed gratitude for the participation of renowned individuals.  Minister Abela explaed that the central theme this year is that of innovation and elderly care. This theme, closely tied to the regulatory body for medicines and medical devices, highlights he importance of patient-centered care, especially in a context where technology plays a critical role in supporting those in need.

Abela congratulated the Malta Med-Tech World Summit and Dr Dylan Attard for organising the symposium’s agenda and eaturing world-class speakers and panels dedicated to exploring these pivotal topics in the medical fied.  Dr Abela said that the conference this year focussed on how innovation can be driven by patients’ needs and safety within the community.

Forward looking approach to ageing and dementia

Minister Abela expressed his admiration for technology and innovation in healthcare.  He stressed the importance of ensuring that new medical innovations are genuinely beneficial to patients, with their satsifaction being paramount.

He questioned the motivations behind medical innovation, urging the audience to consider whether advancements are primarily aimed at improving the healthcare system or whether they are genuinely benefitting patints. In the context of healthcare, especially geriatric care, he spoke about the significance of empowering individuals.

He then outlined his ministry’s vision and strategies to address the rising challenges of an aging population. Aging and the associated demands for long-term care are inevitable in developed countries. Abela said that politicians are often criticized for pursuing short-term gains, but he argued that this sector demands a forward-looking approach, focusing on strategies for ageing and dementia, along with a strong emphasis on preventive medicine.

Investments in preventive care

The Minister detailed his commitment to delivering not just good but excellent services and stressed the need for significant investments in preventive care, including cancer and disease screening. He spoke of decentralization, bringing services closer to people’s homes with  initiatives like “hospital at home.” The integration of data and the creation of a seamless system for analysis and planning were also among the priorities outlined.

Minister Abela praised the government’s dedication to digitalization whilst understanding the importance of ensuring that this transformation benefits all segments of society, addressing the digital divide.

The Minister concluded by revealing environmental initiatives, with the need to transform assets into eco-friendly projects.

He mentioned an ongoing audit taking place in Malta to quantify glove usage in medical institutions and expressed his stance against levying taxes on discarded medicines. He believed that thre should be a delicate balance between environmental conservation and preserving patients’ access to life-saving treatments.

In this comprehensive address, Minister Jo Etienne Abela championed a holistic vision for healthcare, with ‘prevention being better than cure’.

His vision is patient-centered care, innovation, and sustainability as the cornerstones of Malta’s evolving medical requirements.

Hon Dr Jo Etienne Abela is Malta’s Minister for Active Ageing. He is President of the Malta Medicines Authority and a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Malta. He is conslutant surgeon at Mater Dei Hospital in Malta.   Minister Abela was speaking at the Malta Med-Tech World Summit held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valleta.  He appears on the front cover and is featured in the latest edition of Block Magazine available via this link. Copies of Block Magazine are available for delegates at the Malta Med-Tech Summit.

Related topics:

Building Malta’s Med-Tech hub – keynote by Dr Chris Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for health