Health Minister Chris Fearne is in talks with European Union counterparts to set up a joint procurement scheme for cancer medication, similar to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fearne was speaking during a visit to the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre at Mater Dei Hospital on the occasion of World Cancer Day.
The deputy prime minister said it was important to make sure the Maltese, as well as citizens across the EU, were receiving the best medication, procured at the best price.
“We must not forget that COVID-19 has had a great impact on cancer patients – much of the hospital’s resources have been reprioritized to deal with the pandemic,” Fearne said.
To this end, Fearne said the setting of the Nurse Navigation Initiative has helped cancer patients. He said that there are now five, soon to be six, specialized nurses acting as an intermediary between patients and specialist physicians.
“Usually when one has cancer, many different physicians are consulted, it can be difficult for the patient to keep track of different appointments, information and so on. This initiative elevates that,” he said, adding that the feedback has been positive for far – there are also plans to add more nurses in the near future.
Fearne said that the hospital was also focusing on introducing a virtual clinic for cancer patients.
“Having an appointment for some can take an entire day off. That is not always possible.” The health minister said this will make it easier for patients to attend appointments without having to go to the hospital.
Fearne also added that the call centre for cancer patients has been reworked. Now patients will not just be given an appointment, but they will be called back to remind them of it. And if there is hesitance, the support will be given to ensure the person attends their appointments.
Fearne also said more cancer medications have been added to the government’s formulary list.
Breast cancer screens have also increased, he said, with more women aware that the earlier cancer is caught the better chances of survival.
Also, in attendance, Minister Carmelo Abela added that investments are also being made to the private sector, including Hospice Malta to enable them to continue to support patients.