WHO regional director praises Malta for health measures

Mal­ta is an exam­ple that should be fol­lowed: Over the week­end, Hans Kluge, Region­al Direc­tor of the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion of Europe, tweet­ed about Mal­ta and praised the coun­try for the health mea­sures tak­en to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion and con­trol the spread of the coro­n­avirus. Kluge said Mal­ta was “on the right track and an exam­ple to fol­low”.

Click here for the twit­ter post.

But why exact­ly is Mal­ta explic­it­ly praised in this way? What does Mal­ta do bet­ter than oth­er coun­tries? And what does the “Coro­na cri­sis” mean for life in Mal­ta?

I will answer all these ques­tions in my arti­cle.

Dealing with Covid-19

The Mal­tese Gov­ern­ment took mea­sures to ensure the pro­tec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion even before the virus spread. For exam­ple, peo­ple who came from an affect­ed area were ordered to be quar­an­tined at home as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure. Short­ly after­ward, flights to affect­ed coun­tries were can­celed and final­ly, the air­port was com­plete­ly closed to pas­sen­ger traf­fic on 21 March. Restau­rants, cafes and shop­ping malls were also ordered by the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment to remain closed or to offer only deliv­er­ies. The clo­sure of schools and kinder­gartens was announced on 12.03.2020 and closed on 13.03 and 16.03 respec­tive­ly. Last Thurs­day, fur­ther mea­sures were then imposed, such as a light cur­few for over 65-year-olds and peo­ple at risk and those in con­tact with them. Those affect­ed are to be allowed to do only the most nec­es­sary pur­chas­es.

In addi­tion, the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment man­aged to set up struc­tures with­in a very short peri­od of time, such as the deliv­ery of food to peo­ple who can no longer go to the super­mar­ket due to health restric­tions or quar­an­tine.

Also the spot checks for quar­an­tine vio­la­tions and the announced penal­ties for non-com­pli­ance (3,000 Euro) had an effect.

The efforts made so far speak for them­selves: despite the fact that Mal­ta is a small island with a high pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty, only 156 peo­ple are cur­rent­ly infect­ed (as of 30.30.2020).

Maltese mentality

Anoth­er rea­son lies in the men­tal­i­ty of the Mal­tese peo­ple. They take their respon­si­bil­i­ty towards the elder­ly and sick peo­ple very seri­ous­ly and stay at home even though there is no imposed cur­few, they make home office and only go out if nec­es­sary.

Geographical situation

The geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion of Mal­ta con­tributes sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the low num­ber of cas­es so far: Due to the fact that Mal­ta is an island, it is, of course, eas­i­er to ” cut it off ” from the out­side world and there­fore to stop the spread­ing of the virus.  As already men­tioned at the begin­ning, the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment made use of this rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly on, in con­trast to oth­er coun­tries, and restrict­ed air traf­fic first par­tial­ly and final­ly com­plete­ly.

Economic situation

Mal­ta is not only a beau­ti­ful tourist des­ti­na­tion with the clean­est water in Europe but also has a thriv­ing econ­o­my due to a wide range of gov­ern­men­tal incen­tives.

Of course, the low tax rates that Mal­ta offers play a role in this con­text.  It is par­tic­u­lar­ly at this time that it becomes obvi­ous that Mal­tese com­pa­nies have a high­er equi­ty ratio than those in oth­er coun­tries due to the low effec­tive tax­a­tion and are there­fore bet­ter equipped to cope with such a cri­sis than in coun­tries where effec­tive tax­a­tion accounts for almost half of the prof­its. In addi­tion, the gov­ern­ment has offered its help if nec­es­sary, as already described in this arti­cle.

Health system in general

The WHO Region­al Direc­tor for Europe, Hans Kluge, vis­it­ed Mal­ta last Octo­ber after being nom­i­nat­ed for the posi­tion. Back then, he praised the Gov­ern­ment of Mal­ta for its com­mit­ment to improv­ing the lev­el of health. The Mal­tese health sys­tem is con­sid­ered to be one of the best in Europe: Mal­ta pro­vides basic health care to every inhab­i­tant of Mal­ta, financed by social secu­ri­ty con­tri­bu­tions. Mal­tese cit­i­zens can also take out pri­vate insur­ance in addi­tion to this pub­lic health care through the state sys­tem — but this is not com­pul­so­ry, as the state sys­tem pro­vides basic care. The ratio of doc­tors to the pop­u­la­tion is also rel­a­tive­ly high in Mal­ta. This sit­u­a­tion can addi­tion­al­ly ensure access to ade­quate care.

Effects of COVID-19 on life in Malta

Even though Mal­ta could hard­ly man­age the cri­sis any bet­ter, some changes are still notice­able: Due to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, few­er peo­ple are think­ing about “relo­ca­tion to Mal­ta” or sim­i­lar mat­ters. As a result, few­er peo­ple are mov­ing to Mal­ta than usu­al. Fur­ther­more, the demand for new accom­mo­da­tion of Mal­tese res­i­dents is decreas­ing. At the same time, how­ev­er, many new apart­ments have been built recent­ly and are cur­rent­ly being com­plet­ed. From an eco­nom­ic point of view, this cre­ates a sup­ply over­hang, which in turn leads to a reduc­tion in rents.

Update April 09, 2020: Healthy life years statistics

How­ev­er, Mal­ta not only has one of the best health care sys­tems, but also has the high­est life expectan­cy with­in the EU (i.e. the num­ber of years a per­son lives with­out nec­es­sar­i­ly being phys­i­cal­ly active & healthy)!

To note that Mal­tese women are in first place with 73.4 years and Mal­tese men with 71.9…just under 10 years above the EU aver­age!

Healthy life years statistics Malta

Click here to get to the source

Conclusion

All in all, to use Hans Kluge’s words, Mal­ta is lead­ing by exam­ple. The gov­ern­ment is react­ing quick­ly and the peo­ple are fol­low­ing the gov­ern­ments’ instruc­tions.

In my opin­ion, it is sit­u­a­tions like this that show how good a country’s gov­ern­ment works. For my part, I can say that I feel very safe and secure here with my fam­i­ly and I con­tin­ue to rec­om­mend to any­one who asks me to move to Mal­ta. The mea­sures tak­en by the gov­ern­ment show that Mal­ta can keep up very well with the rest of the EU coun­tries, if not sur­pass them. I also assume that the Mal­tese Gov­ern­ment will use the lessons learned from this cri­sis to make Mal­ta even safer in the future than it already is. Espe­cial­ly in view of the fact that the coro­n­avirus is like­ly to con­cern us for some time, as it is expect­ed to reap­pear in waves, I con­sid­er Mal­ta to be a very safe place.

I am con­vinced that, after this cri­sis, many com­pa­nies will con­tin­ue to choose Mal­ta as a suit­able busi­ness loca­tion because of the loca­tion­al advan­tages such as the Mediter­ranean weath­er or the tax advan­tages that this coun­try has to offer for com­pa­nies. There­fore, I advise all those who are think­ing about set­ting up a com­pa­ny in Mal­ta to deal with this top­ic right now in order to be able to prof­it from the cur­rent “advan­tages” such as low rents. If you have any ques­tions on this top­ic, please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact us.

About Philipp Sauerborn

In 2005, Philipp Sauer­born joined the firm of St. Matthew in Lon­don, one of the lead­ing Ger­man account­ing firms in Eng­land renowned for its exper­tise in cor­po­rate, com­mer­cial and tax law, as a depart­ment head. After three years, he was a part­ner and man­ag­ing direc­tor.
Towards the end of 2011, he decid­ed to move to Mal­ta, where he first worked at inter­na­tion­al law firms and con­sul­tan­cies in an employed and con­sult­ing capac­i­ty. Since the begin­ning of 2013, he has been a senior employ­ee at Dr. Wern­er & Part­ner. Mr. Sauer­born is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing his ADIT ‑Advanced Diplo­ma in Inter­na­tion­al Tax.

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