The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine (MAPHM) is deeply concerned about the current strain on the health care resources across the country. It has been reported that Mater Dei Hospital is experiencing an unprecedented number of heat-related admissions, overwhelming its capacity to treat emergency cases, and suspending elective procedures. Also, especially in susceptible individuals and in persons with pre-existing medical conditions, when temperatures exceed a certain limit, summer heat waves result in an increase in the number of deaths.
We express our heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated healthcare professionals who are tirelessly working to provide critical care during this challenging time. We also give thanks to those healthcare professionals, including junior doctors and nurses working in public health who were temporarily redeployed to help in this situation. Their commitment and dedication are commendable.
This crisis was not unforeseeable, caused by a combination of the heatwave, and ongoing power cuts. Climate change experts have warned that it is possible that heatwaves will keep on coming more frequently and at higher intensities. Coupled with the population increase, this will put more strain on Malta’s critical infrastructure.
According to Malta’s National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030, Enemalta has developed an Operator Security Plan (OSP) with the overall goal of ensuring a reliable supply of energy and drawing up contingency plans. The Plan also mentions that Enemalta carried out a National Risk Assessment which includes national hazards. These recent developments put the implementation of this plan into question.
Given the trends in population growth and climate change, the country needs a well-resourced plan to assess and improve the capacity of all its critical infrastructure. Transportation is already an ongoing daily national problem. Today we added electricity and health to the mix. In the near future, other sectors, which are vital for day-to-day safety and living, and that are dependent on the failing critical infrastructure, may become affected. We have already witnessed minor issues in water supplies.
How well-equipped are we with dealing with these issues? We need to prepare for and mitigate the consequences of climate change and population growth by working on all areas including health, energy, the built and natural environment, transportation, social welfare etc. We cannot only focus on economic growth at the cost of health and well-being. This is an issue MAPHM has been stating repeatedly.
The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine remains committed to supporting the authorities and advocating for evidence-based strategies that take all aspects, including health, into consideration for long-term, sustainable progress.