The Swiss Enlargement Contribution in Malta

Article, 17.09.2010

Switzerland supports Malta in the realization of two projects, i.e., special funding for the “Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies” and the acquisition of a PET scanner for diagnosing cancer. Just about CHF 5 million will be injected into these projects from the Swiss Enlargement Contribution. Both projects are on the verge of implementation, bringing to an end the distribution of the Swiss Enlargement Contribution earmarked for Malta.

MEDAC students in front of the World Trade Organisation
MEDAC students visit the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as part of a study trip. SDC

Training diplomats in the Mediterranean region

Switzerland and Malta have been cultivating a long-time partnership aimed at fostering peace and stability in the Mediterranean region. By dint of its geographical situation between Europe and Africa, Malta has assumed the role of mediator in North-South dialogue. In 1990, both countries joined together in creating the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) for the purpose of training young diplomats. A special accent was accorded to themes that specifically concerned the Mediterranean region, as a function of which many aspiring diplomats hail from northern Africa and the Near East. Over the years, MEDAC has succeeded in forging for itself an internationally recognized reputation for excellence in the training of young diplomats.

Thanks to the “Support to the MEDAC” project, the longstanding good relations between Malta and Switzerland are to be reaffirmed and further strengthened. The project foresees the financing of up to 60 scholarships to MEDAC for future diplomats. A Swiss professor will take up the so-called “Swiss chair” in Malta and hold lectures. By means of this Enlargement Contribution, additional summer-school courses will be offered to some 20 to 30 participants on the theme of Human Rights, providing them with knowledge of the fundamentals on Human Rights and International Law. Cooperation among the countries of the Mediterranean region will be enhanced and intensified thanks to the training of diplomats from the different Mediterranean regions and the consolidation of a network of former MEDAC graduates. This represents a contribution to ensuring stability and peace between Europe, North Africa, and the Near East.

Switzerland’s financial participation in this project amounts to CHF 1.9 million. The project is planned to last over a period of four academic years and to be terminated at the end of 2014.

A big step forward in improving the diagnosis of cancer in Malta

The Sir Paul Boffa Hospital in Malta already possesses the infrastructure needed for cancer therapy. The majority of Maltese patients diagnosed with cancer have themselves treated in this hospital. In order to combat cancer in a sensible manner, however, one is first obliged to discover where exactly in the body and to what extend the cancerous cells are present. In Malta, the radiological infrastructure for an early diagnosis of cancer is insufficient. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) represents a new, rapid, and precise method for the diagnosis of cancer; however, such treatment is extremely costly. Cancer patients who want to receive an in-depth diagnosis of their disease are obliged to travel abroad and have themselves treated in centers especially equipped for this purpose. While a PET scanner was, to be sure, recently installed in a clinic in Malta, said clinic is privately owned and hence the PET scanner is inaccessible to the majority of Maltese cancer patients. The high cost of travelling abroad for treatment or for using the PET scanner located in the private clinic means that inequalities reign within the Maltese population in the domain of healthcare.

Thanks to the project known as “Establishing Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanning”, a PET scanner is being financed and installed in the pubic Mater Dei Hospital in Malta, thereby ensuring the Maltese population’s access to positron emission tomography for diagnosis of cancer. The installation of a PET scanner in a public hospital, i.e., within the domain of public health care, represents a contribution to making cancer care accessible to the Maltese population on an equal basis. No longer will the financially precarious and the elderly population segments of the population be obliged to foot the bill for their cancer diagnostic therapy as the costs for oncologic treatment in the Mater Dei Hospital will be reimbursed to the patients by the Maltese health service. At the same time, for Mater Dei Hospital, this is the first step towards setting up a full-fledged oncology center of its own. For support in choosing the PET scanner and for the purpose of training its personnel in the operation of the equipment, the Hospital is working in cooperation with the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland (IOSI) in Bellinzona.


Dr Anthony Samuel, Nuclear medicine specialist,presents a PET scanner.
Dr Anthony Samuel, Nuclear medicine specialist,presents a PET scanner. © SDC