EU funds lessen pain for Cancer patients and avoid premature deaths

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When cancer hits it needs immediate attention. There is no time to waste as a few days can literally make the difference between life and death. It is one of the most painful and stressful periods of one’s life.

The problem is worldwide and in countries like Malta, where life-expectancy is one of the highest in the world, the cancer occurrence is increasing significantly.

According to the most recent data, it is estimated that Malta is discovering some 1,400 new cancer cases every year. This figure is unfortunately increasing every year as people keep living longer.

Until a few years ago, despite all the efforts of Malta’s health services, those needing treatment for cancer had just two options. Either get their treatment at Sir Paul Boffa hospital in Floriana, an old dilapidated building which had long passed its best times or do the extra and stressful effort, if once personal resources permit, to go abroad and get the necessary treatment.

This all changed since 2014 when with millions of EU cohesion funds injected directly into Malta’s health system, the island could build a new state of the art hospital dedicated solely for the treatment of cancer.

Named after Malta’s first President, Sir Anthony Mamo, the new Oncology Centre was built adjacent to the island’s main hospital Mater Dei in Msida, so that it could complement and use the modern facilities of the larger facility in case of need.

Apart from the state-of-the-art building, hosting some 113 hospital beds and a new department for out-patient treatment, millions of EU funds were directly invested in the most modern equipment available to diagnose and cure cancer.

This included a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system, deemed crucial in the diagnosis stage and the latest radio therapy equipment. Although the island already had these resources before, they were considered as obsolete next to the new technology, and this helped with a more precise diagnosis and monitoring processes, helping patients to find the exact problem as soon as possible in order to start treatment.

As the new Oncology Centre provided the opportunity of more space and more resources available, it has also provided the possibility for the national health services to introduce much needed additional services such as the start of nation-wide screening processes against different forms of common cancer such as in the colon, prostate  or breast.

These new screening programmes, covering those mostly prone to these problems due to the age factor, have helped avoid many complicated problems and possibly premature deaths, as treatment could be started at the beginning of an emerging problem.

In cancer, prevention is the most important cure possible.

EU funds – which in this case amounted to more than €41 million – has literally made a difference of life and death for many Maltese patients.

This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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