A Nationalist government would provide free contraception and morning after pills as part of a sexual health strategy it would deliver within six months of being elected.
PN election candidate Emma Portelli Bonnici said a Nationalist government would also offer the morning after pill to rape victims treated at Mater Dei Hospital.
“We still view contraception as a taboo despite Malta’s low rate of contraception use and high rate of STIs,” Portelli Bonnici said adding that a Nationalist government would deliver an intersectional Sexual Health Policy within six months of being elected to government.
When the PN announced, back in May, that it was drafting sexual health reform plans, it said that recommendations will include that contraception should be available free of charge to any person over 16 years and accessible in post-secondary schools, university and places of entertainment, as well as from health centres and public hospitals.
Portelli Bonnici said that the policy a PN government would draw up would cover the needs of people from the LGBTIQ community as well as people with disabilities. She was talking during a press conference about sexual health.
The sexual health policy currently in use was published in 2010. In 2014, the then-head of the GU Clinic had said that the policy in use was "outdated the day it came out".
But it remains in use seven years later. An updated policy was to be published in the first half of 2021 but earlier in October Health Minister Chris Fearne said it would be expected in early 2022 as the government was once again reviewing it as the research it was based on was outdated.
Speaking on Thursday, PN health spokesperson Stephen Spiteri said Malta faced a “silent epidemic” with the number of sexually transmitted diseases increasing.
He promised that a PN government would invest in sexual health by increasing human resources, upping investment and embarking on educational campaigns.
He spoke about the need to outsource services, adding that the GU clinic at Mater Dei was not enough to cater for over 400,000 people.
“We need to improve education and tackle the taboo surrounding sexual health.
"Only 2% of the population is going to the Genitourinary (GU ) clinic for screening,” he said adding that there was an “alarming increase” in STIs with five new cases of HIV a month and over 800 human papillomavirus (HPV) cases a year.
In 2019, Times of Malta reported that patients at the GU clinic more than doubled in 10 years - from 2,632 in 2009 to 5,864 in 2018. Awareness could have played a part.
Asked whether the PN would include abortion as part of the policy, he said abortion was a subject to be discussed in parliament. The PN was taking the stand to protect life from conception, he said.