The Times Monday, 26th May 2008
Action against cancer
Michael Briguglio, PRO, Żminijietna - Voice of the Left, Valletta
Malta's health system is universal and accessible for everyone in various fields, and this is something which we should be proud of. At the same time, however, there are some gaps which require urgent attention. Breast cancer screening and vaccination against cervical cancer are cases in point.
Low income and poverty are key factors amongst others (ranging from genetics to lifestyle and environmental factors) which increase chances of ill-health, and this is also true of deaths from cancer. Many people cannot afford the hefty fees demanded by the private sector. Żminijietna - Voice of the Left therefore calls for the introduction of universal public schemes which so far do not exist in Malta, such as free cervical vaccination and free and prompt breast cancer screening.
Such reforms could be carried out within a European framework.
In this regard, the Maltese government can speak up for increased European coordination against cancer, for example, through Structural Funds and the Seventh Research Framework Programme.
There is a strong case to support such a call. Each year in the EU nearly two million people are diagnosed with cancer and there are over one million deaths from the disease. It is estimated that there are nearly three million people alive in the EU who have received a diagnosis of cancer in the last five years. Around one-third of cancers are preventable and another 30 per cent can be successfully treated.
Żminijietna supports the appeal of the United Left/Nordic Green Left Group in the European Parliament for a task force on cancer bringing together the Commission, Parliament and Council and for more EU funding for cancer detection and prevention. We urge Malta's MEPs to support this appeal.