A group representing 17 professional associations has backed Kenneth Grech, the COVID-19 public health coordinator who was sidelined after advising against the reopening of schools. 

The Malta Federation of Professional Associations (MFPA) said it condemned the "arbitrary decision" to redeploy Grech, who was "carrying out his duty by providing advice in accordance with his ethical oblications".

Grech, a leading member of the COVID-19 public health response team, was told over the weekend that his services within the response team were no longer needed and that he would be redeployed.

The government has insisted the move had nothing to do with Grech's advice, which sparked a two-day teacher's strike after the education ministry refused to go move schools online after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The MFPA, which represents 17 professional associations said professionals who are of utmost importance for the country’s management of the pandemic, should be allowed to carry out their duties as recommended by their specialisation. 

"It is therefore unthinkable that a professional is sidelined for abiding by the code of ethics by the authorities, who should primarily be setting an example themselves," it said. 

As it expressed solidarity with Grech, it said it was even more concerning that through his redeployment, Grech is to carry out other duties that may be of "lesser importance to Maltese society at this time of the pandemic". 

The statement comes after the doctors' union the Medical Association of Malta declared an industrial dispute with the government over the isue.

MFPA said public health should be given the importance it deserves and professionals should be allowed to carry out their duties as recommended by their specialisation. 
This statement was endorsed by the Association of Podiatrists of Malta, Association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Chamber of Engineers, Dental Association of Malta,  Malta Association for the Counselling Profession, Medical Association of Malta, Malta Association of Occupational Therapists, Malta Association of Professional Conservators and Restorers, Maltese Association of Social Workers, Maltese Association of Youth Workers, Malta Chamber of Pharmacists, Malta Chamber of Psychologists, Malta Veterinary Association and Society of Medical Radiographers.

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