Frank Portelli | Sunday, 26 April 2009
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Gozo’s health inequalities

During every election period Gozo becomes a star – it rises and shines above the horizon like the sun. After each election is over Gozo’s sun declines and life returns to normal.
Gozo residents continue to suffer inequalities in health. A recent parliamentary question revealed that in the last three years, 279 patients had to be transferred to Malta by helicopter or by ambulance for urgent medical treatment or investigation.
The main reasons for these transfers were the need for investigations such as CT scans and coronary angiograms. These investigations are routinely performed at Mater Dei Hospital in Malta because the facilities exist.
In Gozo the NHS does not provide CT Scans or angiograms – therefore health inequalities continue to be faced by Gozo residents.
Health inequalities are unfair. True, the European Commission has promised to address health inequalities within the EU member states before the end of the current year (2009).
All EU citizens should have access to high-quality health services, regardless of where they live and so the EU has made structural funds available to address these inequalities. Gozo should be one such beneficiary.
Gozo residents should benefit from such funds and I propose that a high quality CT scanner should be installed on the island in an NHS hospital with these EU funds.
I have identified an EU health fund suitable for this purpose. As this fund has an application deadline of 20 May 2009 I have written requesting an extension of this deadline.
In my request, I explained that since we are in the middle of the MEP campaign I am requesting that the deadline for submission of proposals be extended by at least six weeks so that newly elected MEPs may be in a position to submit proposals.
The bureaucratic reply was the following: “The deadline for submission is in fact the 20 May 2009 and no extension is possible.” This reply will not put me off and in spite of the shortage of time I will attempt to reach the deadline for this year – as I am determined to obtain such funds for the benefit of Gozo.
If elected as an MEP I pledge to address this inequality by installing a state of the art CT Scanner in Gozo before the end of next year (2010) in order to obviate the need for many patients to be transferred to Malta. This scanner would be installed under the auspices of the NHS.
To me inequalities in health are unacceptable, shameful and immoral. Gozo residents deserve equal treatment as their Maltese counterparts. Gozo’s star should shine throughout all the seasons.

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