Parliamentary diabetes committee yet to be set up despite agreement

Both government and the opposition are in agreement over the creation of a parliamentary committee on diabetes but so far this has not been set up.

Government agrees with the proposal submitted by Opposition MP and deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg to create a permanent parliamentary sub-committee on diabetes however the Health Committee has not taken a decision on the matter.

Last week, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca described diabetes as a national problem and called for the launch of a national screening for the illness, saying that the growing numbers of sufferers required immediate action.

A recent study entitled ‘Your Health,’ found that one in eight Maltese adults between the ages of 25 and 64, suffer from diabetes and nearly 10,000 of these are not aware of their condition.

Buttigieg submitted a written request to the chairman of the Health Committee, Silvio Grixti, to set up a permanent sub-committee on diabetes.

In comments to The Shift News, Buttigieg said the initiative has the full backing of the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia. “He encouraged me to work on it so that the sub-committee would have a research team working on it and be more productive,” Buttigieg said.

So far, despite government’s written agreement, the sub-committee has not been set up. During the previous legislature, an unofficial committee headed by former Labour whip and now a Partit Demokratiku MP Godfrey Farrugia was set up and met on a regular basis. A number of reports were drawn up by the committee but Buttigieg said that targets set by the committee have been “totally ignored” by government.

The health committee, which last met in November 2017, does not include health minister Chris Fearne following the opposition’s objection to his presence in the previous legislature because it argued that this hindered proper scrutiny of the health sector.

The incidence of diabetes in Malta is expected to continue rising in all age groups, making diabetes a growing health problem. Diabetes has a significant impact on the quality of life of sufferers and their families, especially when complications arise.

Four years ago, government launched a national strategy, with the aim of implementing measures to prevent diabetes, expand treatment options and improve the integrated management of diabetes “to prevent or postpone the onset of diabetes-related complications.”

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