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PN MP Alex Borg Insists Fibromyalgia Care Must Be Prioritised Over Free Sex Reassignment Surgery 

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Nationalist MP Alex Borg has sparked a political dispute after insisting the government should prioritise giving financial aid to fibromyalgia sufferers over making sex reassignment surgery for trans people free of charge.

Borg spoke out after Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged more reforms for the LGBTIQ+ community, including free sex reassignment surgery for trans people, which is included in the PL’s electoral manifesto.

“They will be placed on the national health service, which means the state will finance the procedure,” Abela said.

While Borg didn’t criticise the announcement per se – saying that he is glad to see so much progress for Malta’s LGBTIQ+ community – he did question the government’s priorities.

“We need to be realistic,” he said. “It’s good that there is money for free sex reassignment surgery, but how isn’t there enough money to cure and treat fibromyalgia?”

“I cannot understand how Robert Abela tells fibromyalgia sufferers who are in constant pain that there isn’t enough money for them. Prime Minister, the first people you should help are these people experiencing this pain; they need some kind of monthly voucher to buy medicine and make use of pools and physiotherapists of their choice.”

“Stop choosing the path of populism and let us embark on the path of common sense, where the people of Malta can enjoy life equally and not only a part of society.”

Ruth Debono, president of the ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia Alliance, displayed a similar sentiment, stating that while she sympathises with trans people she cannot understand how the authorities can tell people suffering from 24/7 pain that there isn’t enough money for them.

Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M/E) are disorders that are characterised by widespread pain and fatigue and have different levels of severity. They remain something of a medical mystery as they can’t be detected with scans or blood tests and many doctors don’t even recognise them as actual conditions.

Fibromyalgia and M/E sufferers have long been crying out for the Maltese authorities to recognise their conditions as a disability and to give them financial aid for medication, vitamins and proper nutrition to help alleviate their symptoms.

Last year, the ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia Alliance warned that many sufferers are falling into poverty and depression and some are even stuck in abusive relationships, unable to leave because they lack financial freedom.

The PL’s manifesto does promise more free medication and treatment to fibromyalgia sufferers.

Parliamentary Secretary for Equality Rebecca Buttigieg suggested there was a more devious undertone to Borg’s statement. 

“I was glad to see Opposition MPs, including Alex Borg, attend the first Gozitan Pride March a few days ago, and I told myself that it seemed as though the PN would finally start supporting the government in its work in favour of more equality for the LGBTIQ+ community,” Buttigieg said.

“However, it didn’t even take until the conclusion of Pride Week for their true colours to emerge.”

“The electoral promise that the Prime Minister mentioned is aimed at offering more support to trans people who are passing through pain, something you clearly have yet to understand.”

“Alex Borg, assistance to the LGBTIQ community doesn’t come at the cost of government aid in other sectors. Therefore, your comment only serves to show that the PN still has MPs who don’t believe in equality, and worse who celebrate Pride Week for political purposes and not because they truly believe in the cause.”

“We aren’t like you, we deliver on what we promise and we will keep supporting the community.”

Cover photo: Left: Parliamentary Secretary for Equality Rebecca Buttigieg, Centre: PN MP Alex Borg, Right: ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia Alliance president Ruth Debono 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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