A national discussion on paediatric palliative care in Malta will be launched in the coming weeks, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Saturday.

Consultation is essential to create a solid care strategy for the coming years, he told a conference on palliative care.

Statistics show that only 12% of deaths occur in private residences. Of these, a substantial number are people with terminal illnesses who have chosen to keep on living at home till the end, receiving palliative care at home.

It is therefore essential to promote discussion about palliative care to ensure that everything possible is done to ensure these people can spend their remaining time as comfortably as possible while their families while receiving the best possible support.

The deputy prime minister listed a number of initiatives which have been included in the strategy.

Among these are multi-disciplinary home palliative care teams which will follow the patients as well as their families to guide them continuously, offering peace of mind and ensuring that the prescribed treatment is being taken appropriately in the private residences.

Family doctors will be trained to offer this type of support in the home environment, he explained.

Regarding younger patients receiving palliative care, Fearne explained that although this sort of treatment is relatively new, the strategy for palliative care will consider the transition between paediatric care and that for grown-ups to cater for adolescents as well as their families.

The conference, he said offered a platform where professionals could share experiences among themselves and with the foreign doctors and parents who had been through the experience to ensure that service to patients continually improves.

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