The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne has met European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides. The meeting focused on improving cooperation between Member States on COVID-19, the upcoming European Pharma strategy, including medicine price transparency to improve access, and the EU Cancer Plan.
On COVID-19, the Deputy Prime Minister explained the initiatives and measures Malta is currently undertaking to contain the spread of the virus. As of this moment, Malta is still in its pre-containment stage, as it is one of the few EU Member States where no cases have been tested positive. The European Commission is currently engaging with all Member States in coordinating their respective preparedness activities, and is also facilitating information exchange amongst the Member States through the work of the Health Security Committee.
This would ensure that all the information gained from cases connected to the virus outbreak in Italy will be shared among Member States. Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister encouraged the European Commission to prepare all the groundwork to launch a joint procurement process to purchase a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the vaccine is authorised.
Regarding Malta's push to improve access to medicines through price transparency, which is currently being discussed by the Valletta Declaration Group, the European Commissioner reassured the Deputy Prime Minister that access to medicines and the need to address exorbitant prices for medicinal products is a problem of all Member States, and is a priority for this European Commission. The measures to address these issues will be included within the Pharmaceutical Strategy that the European Commission will be launching later this year.
Additionally, the European Commission will also be launching an EU-wide cancer plan which is currently under public consultation. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Health Commissioner agreed that all pillars within the plan, namely prevention measures, early detection and diagnosis, treatment and care, and quality of life, are equally important.
The European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides agreed to visit Malta in autumn this year.