7.8 Current debates and reforms
Currently there are no new policies being formulated by the Ministry for Health that are specifically in the field of youth health and well-being. However Malta is also in the process of drafting an HIV strategy as well as a Health-enhancing physical activity policy. Both of these will not be specifically youth or young person oriented, however they will be very relevant to this particular age-group.
To replace the ‘Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Disease in Malta’, the Ministry for Health has embarked on the development of a Framework for the Prevention of ill-health and Promotion of well-being which will be an overarching horizontal framework that will identify objectives which are considered to be priority areas for action linked to preventable lifestyle risk factors, risky behaviours and unhealthy environments. This will take a life course approach, focusing on different risk factors for various age groups – children and youth will therefore be a focus age group within this framework. The first draft of this framework is expected to be available for public consultation by the end of 2020.
A number of vertical strategies will emanate from the Prevention framework, among them a Tobacco Control Strategy for Malta: Towards a Tobacco free future for Malta.
Following a capacity assessment in 2019, which identified young people as being at the centre of the tobacco epidemic in Malta, and smoking in youth a disturbing public health problem, youth has been selected as a particular focus group for action within this strategy. Emerging realities such as the e-cigarette epidemic will be dealt with within this strategy. It is envisaged that the first draft of this strategy will be discussed with stakeholders during the first half of 2020.
The Whole School Approach to Integrated Management of Severe Allergies in Schools emanates from the “Whole School Approach to a Healthy Lifestyle Policy: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity” and consequently adopts a whole school approach for schools to manage, in an integrated manner, the risks of severe allergic reactions to food, insects, medicines and other allergens taking place in the school and to help schools minimise the risk of students suffering allergy-induced anaphylaxis whilst at school or attending any school related activity.
The National Sexual Health Strategy is currently undergoing extensive review, to be revised in line with recent trends. Young people are a large focus of this strategy. Parallel with this review, the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate Sexual Health team is organising seminars to be better informed on the changing landscape with respect to sexual health in Malta. These seminars aim to bring together multiple stakeholders including NGO’s and will focus primarily on the 16-25 year old age group.
Currently a draft version of the national policy for sport in Malta is available. The document focuses on three pillars: sports and education, sports participation, and sports as a means of economic growth. Each section analyses the current situation for each pillar, followed by a number of targets and recommendations to achieve the desired results. This national sports policy is an attempt to provide ideas for the national stakeholders in sport, namely the government, through the Ministry of Education and Employment, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations and SportMalta, and all national sports organisations, to utilise in the period between 2017 and 2027, ensuring the administration of sport in Malta is target oriented. The aim is to drive all stakeholders to perform the required actions to reach the objectives set out by this policy and meet the aspirations of the Maltese sport movement and the citizens of Malta and Gozo. Emphasis is placed on the role of SportMalta as the national authority on sport and the prime motor for the promotion of sports participation across all sectors of society, including leisure activity and amateur and elite sporting competitions. It collaborates with the Maltese Olympic Committee (MOC). It also provides ideas for the growth of the sporting industry with the intention that Maltese sport may one day be financially self-sustainable and start contributing to the country’s economy.