A first draft of a long-overdue sexual health policy to replace its decade-old predecessor is expected within the next six months.
Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed this to Lovin Malta in a press briefing today, explaining that despite the priority of COVID-19, authorities are working on a new sexual health policy, which would replace Malta’s first and only one published under a different government in 2010.
There are several serious issues that could be addressed in this new policy.
A worryingly low percentage of Malta’s sexually active population visit the GU clinic every year, with just 2% of the population or 7,469 people getting tested at Mater Dei in 2019.
Preventable STDs have risen too, with five people contracting HIV every month and nearly 800 people found with HPV last year.
Moreover, Mater Dei’s GU clinic, which provides the only government-sponsored way to test for sexual diseases, is under-staffed and under-resourced, with a handful of staff catering for a population of 400,000, despite ministerial pledges to double its headcount last year.
Gozo still doesn’t have its own GU clinic.
Following Lovin Malta’s flagging of the constant shortage of contraceptives, Parliamentary Secretary for Equality Rosianne Cutajar pledged to address this by including them on the state’s essential medicines list as well as increase access by making them free.
Malta’s sexual education at schools, which currently involves a bare-minimum outline, could also be addressed.
To read more about what ills could be tackled in this policy, read Lovin Malta’s explainer here.