National Initiatives Malta

In this section, national initiatives which have been set up in Malta can be found.

Staff members of a Maltese hospice foster experience exchange in Aachen Germany

Keen on sharing and gaining know-how and experience, the fourth Maltese trio paid the Department of Palliative Medicine of the University Hospital RWTH in Aachen a visit in the first week of March. Dr Jurgen Abela, a physician, Luisa Bugeja, a social worker and Radharani Agrawal, a physical therapist, all working for the Hospice Malta. In the past, other members of the Maltese Hospice such as chaplain, nurse and head of the Hospice have been to Aachen. 

In 2016 the cooperation between the experts of palliative medicine from Aachen and Malta progressed from an initial contact between Tania Pastrana, MD (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Palliative Medicine, University Hospital RWTH Aachen) and the internationally renowned Professor Max Watson (Professor at the University of Ulster, honorary and senior lecturer at Queens University in Belfast) from Ireland, to a corporate work exchange on a regular basis.

On the Maltese side the Malta Hospice Movement was founded 4th January 1989 when the founding members assumed the role of the first management council formally signed the governing statute of the movement. Hospice Malta, a registered NGO with the Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations, offers all services free of charge to patients in Malta and Gozo.

Hospice Malta offers its services in the community through a professional multidisciplinary team, with the assistance of a number of volunteers. This patient-centred palliative care offer targets the relief of pain and other physical symptoms, as well as caring for emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual issues. Bereavement support is also an integral part of the services provided. Additionally, education, advice and promotion of palliative care remain at the core of Hospice Malta’s services. The Hospice’s education unit provides educational sessions at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels in addition to providing in-service training to staff and volunteers to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge and skills. Currently the hospice is managed by Maria Gatt (chair), Kenneth Delia (general manager) and Anna Frendo (manager care services).

Approximately 80 to 90 % of the cost of palliative care in Malta has to be covered by donations, fund-raising and charitable gifts; only 10 to 20 % are funded by the government. Close to 450 palliative patients are registered in Malta and Gozo at the same time. Currently, the Maltese Hospice can only take care of ambulant patients in Malta and Gozo. A residential institution is planned, because the demand for extensive palliative care in a comfortable surrounding for patients during their last days is growing.

The focus of this experience exchange in Aachen was on the practical issues of palliative care. Therefore, the guests from Malta spent a day in the Iterbach Hospice in Walheim (Hospiz am Iterbach) and in the oldest German stationary hospice, Hospiz Haus Hörn in Aachen. With the help of Johannes Wüller, the medical director of the ambulant palliative care service in Aachen (Home Care Städteregion Aachen gemeinnützige GmbH), the ambulatory care of patients in their domestic environment could be followed by the Maltese delegation. They also attended stationary care of palliative patients and the counselling service of the Department of Palliative Medicine at the University Hospital Aachen.

The University of Aachen established the first endowed chair for palliative medicine in Germany based upon regular donations of the Grünenthal Foundation for Palliative Medicine. Treatment and advising methods, a ward with nine palliative beds at Aachen University Hospital for incurable sick and dying patients were developed and established through the 5.9 million euros endowment capital of this foundation through a donation from the personal assets of the longstanding Grünenthal Inc. CEO Michael Wirtz. Every year over 200 people are helped there during the last and most painful phase of their lives. In 1998 Grünenthal founded this Grünenthal Foundation for Palliative Care. It is dedicated to the needs of people with incurable diseases and limited life-expectancies. The foundation promotes science and research in the field of palliative care in the form of a Chair of Palliative Medicine at the University of Aachen. It also supports the care of seriously ill or terminally ill people. The aim is to preserve the quality of life and the dignity of affected people at the end stage of their life.

Professor Roman Rolke, Chair and Director of the Department of Palliative Medicine of the University Hospital Aachen, and his colleagues are looking forward to more Maltese guests as they cherish the professional exchange with the Maltese experts.

For more information: https://www.hospiz-iterbach.de

Author: Karl-Heinz Oedekoven, Secretary of the GMMS

Picture from left to right: Tania Pastrana MD, Jurgen Abela MD, Radharani Agrawal physical therapist, Jelena von der Maßen stud. cand. med., Heike Reineke-Bracke MD, Luisa  Bugeja social worker, Silvia Degen nurse, Cordula Irlenbusch nurse, Dorothe Pezechk-Engels nurse

Copyright: ©German Maltese Medical Society, Malta

Malta Health Network Empowers Patients

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, the Malta Health Network (MHN) organised two training events as it’s celebration for Patient Solidarity Day inspired by the theme of ‘Patient Empowerment Through Knowledge.’ Read more about the Events here

June 2017: EU Civic Prize - Newly developed application for chronic low back pain Innovation

EU Civic Prize - Good Practice Number 1 (see Abstract and Background book for SIP 2017, page 214 ff)

Category: Clinical Practices

04/2015 – 05/2016


  1. To design a patient-centered smartphone application serving as a pain assessment tool with the main function of recording and tracking pain.
  2. To create a functional application that is feasible for both the patient and the health care professional.
  3. To scientifically evaluate the validity, reliability and usability of the application.


After testing the application and comparing it to the NRS, it was found to be a valid and reliable tool as all the participants showed a positive attitude towards the usability of the application. The researcher acknowledges that generalizations should not be made and though the application worked in these restricted circumstances, results may vary with other conditions. The researcher also recognizes that the application is still in its prototypical stage so further developments would be required. Nonetheless, the results obtained show a great potential and a satisfactory proof- of- concept. Ultimately, the aim of creating a Smartphone based application that is valid, reliable and usable was reached. Hence, within these restricted parameters, the presented hypothesis of no statistical difference between the application
and the NRS can be supported.

Information about Good Practice Applicant

Jake Fenech
Undergraduate Student
University of Malta, Faculty of Health Sciences

She is a physiotherapy student currently in her final year of studies to graduate as a physiotherapist. As part of her final year, she performed a study on chronic pain patients with satisfactory results.

Jan 2017: Launch of PainToolkit in Malta and invitation of Maltese Health Minister Chris Fearne to attend SIP 2017

The PainToolkit,, provides relevant information and materials for people who live with persistent pain and for healthcare teams who support them. Pete Moore as the initiator of the PainToolkit has been invited by the Malta Health Network to hold several interactive workshops with patients as well as with healthcare professionals from Malta. The corresponding booklet is already available in multiple languages and has now been translated as well into Maltese with the endorsement and active involvement of the Ministry of Health in Malta. On the 28thof October Chris Fearne the Maltese Health Minister and several members of his ministry have attended a conference to officially launch the PainToolkit on Malta.On behalf of the SIP platform, Gudula Petersen from Grünenthal has taken the chance during this conference to personally invite Chris Fearne to attend the SIP 2017 Symposium on June 8-9 in Malta. SIP 2017 will take place under the EU presidency on Malta and with financial support of the Maltese Ministry for Finance.

Please watch also the video made by Pete Moore about his impressions from his visit on Malta.

May 2016: Malta shall talk about chronic pain: Societal Impact of Pain Symposium 2017 will be held in Malta

Sliema, 25th May 2016 - No Pain Foundation, a Maltese non-profit organisation of patients and professionals operating on European territory for the improvement of the quality of life of people suffering from chronic pain, has been invited to represent Malta as part of the Maltese delegation at the SIP Symposium 2016 (Societal Impact of Pain) which was held in Brussels on the 23rd and 24th of May. The Societal Impact of Pain Symposium discussed the way forward to help European governments and EU Institutions act and prioritise the societal impact of pain in their policy agenda.

During the Symposium the Scientific Director of No Pain Foundation, Prof. Boaz Samolsky Dekel, and the Secretary General, Mr Mauro Mario, acted as reporters during the workshop“Chronic Pain: a disease or multi-morbidity?” formulating, together with a selected team of international experts, policies and recommendations to be presented to the European Parliament with the aim of concretely improving the quality of life of the European population.

During this important meeting and following the intervention of Maltese MEP Alfred Sant,the Maltese delegation was once again invited to take the floor and formally invite the participants to the next SIP Symposium 2017 to be held in Malta during the European Semester. Worth reminding is that more than 20 European MEPs involved themselves in the SIP Symposium 2016 together with leading researchers and specialists in the field of pain, representatives of key European patients’ organisations, and senior European Commission representatives. The Maltese MEPs who participated to the SIP were Therese Comodini Cachia, Miriam Dalli, Roberta Metsola.

Silvana Fanalista, President of No Pain Foundation said: “This is a great opportunity for Malta since it will be hosting for the first time all European stakeholders (patients, associations, parliamentarians, citizens...) involved in the important issue of chronic pain. Hundreds of delegates shall have the opportunity to discuss issues of fundamental importance for the health of European citizens, finally giving chronic pain its deserved consideration”. She added that the chronic pain domain is a complex one, even if everything rotates around the patient, the distress also spreads out to the familial, emotional, social and economic strata; “Chronic pain – she said - not only represents a serious concern related to health and social issues, but also places a huge burden on national economies”.

For more information:,