According to a Eurostat report, Malta has the highest infant mortality rate in Europe, with 6.7 out of 1,000 infants dying before the age of one (2017 being the year under review).
Malta tops the list alongside Romania, but the island seems to be in a more worrying situation given that it’s seen an upward trend (of 0.1%) whilst Romania has slashed its mortality rate to almost half in the decade under review (2007-2017).
This statistic also goes against the general EU trend, which on average saw infant mortality rate drop from 4.4 to 3.6 in that same time period.
Speaking to Times of Malta, a Health Ministry Spokeswoman explained that the “indicator is intended to reflect the quality of maternity care in a country”, but does not make any distinction between babies “unlucky enough to have a congenital abnormality or condition which, therefore, puts them at a disadvantage in terms of chances to live and babies who would potentially be otherwise healthy”.
The statistics only take into consideration babies who die after live birth, and therefore excludes any pregnancies which are terminated prematurely due to issues caused by a congenital abnormality.
Malta, being a country that does not practice the termination of pregnancies, will inevitably have a higher infant mortality rate than those countries that do.