A prominent LGBT+ organisation has raised the alarm after its stocks of crucial HIV testing kits ran dry because of Brexit.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) said that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has caused major delays in shipments and complicated logistics in procuring these testing kits, which they sold to encourage sexually active people to get checked.
“We had been selling them ourselves for a while but sales increased when the GU clinic services became limited due to COVID-19,” a spokesperson explained.
Their supplier tried to sell them through pharmacies but the concept never caught on, according to MGRM.
“We remain fully committed to seeing that everyone has access to testing, expert advice and support to know their HIV status, and if needed, start treatment. Admittedly, this has become an uphill struggle,” MGRM said.
This comes as a letter from Prime Minister Robert Abela to the President of the European Council was leaked, revealing that Malta was left without its main legal channel to supply medical products to residents because of Brexit.
“I am very concerned with this situation since shortages of medicinal products will undermine the effectiveness of our healthcare system. This is of even greater concern since we are currently in the middle of a health crisis,” Abela wrote.
Malta imports between 60-80% of its pharmaceuticals from the UK. Since it’s such a small country, Malta doesn’t have the advantage of economies of scales or the capacity to buy high volumes to reduce the price of medicines.
Now, agents are faced with more red tape and the challenge of creating new relationships with other EU exporters. Brexit will affect re-exports too because Malta is a hub for North Africa for medicine.
Malta’s pharmaceutical sector was already bracing for major shocks to the system when the UK’s EU withdrawal was formalised. However, just two months since the deal was struck, the struggles to adjust are only beginning to unravel.
Cover photo, right: ChiralJon
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