The morning-after pill is only free for patients admitted into Mater Dei hospital, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has confirmed.
Speaking following a parliamentary question from PN MP Claudette Buttigieg over whether the pill is available at the state hospital as part of the Rape Response Team, Fearne confirmed it was only available for in-patients, that is, patients receiving treatment at Mater Dei.
Additionally, Fearne revealed, it is only administered at the discretion of a doctor.
The morning-after pill, also known as Plan B or the day after pill, is a form of emergency contraception used after a woman had sex to prevent pregnancy. It can be used after unprotected sex or in the case of failed contraception – when a condom breaks for example.
In Malta, no prescription is needed to get it but barriers to obtaining it still exist. Mass shortages are regular and it isn’t even listed on the government’s essential medicine list.
A study of over 120 pharmacies conducted last month found that just 64% of pharmacies stocked the pill, despite it being legal since 2017.
It also found that no pharmacies in Gozo stock the morning after pill on Sunday, meaning women would have to travel to all the way to Malta to get it.
The study also claimed that Malta’s national health service Mater Dei doesn’t stock the pill, contrary to the Health Ministry’s recent statement.
A map listing all of Malta’s pharmacies that stock the morning after pill has since been launched, after a study discovered that women find it difficult to obtain it, despite it being legal.
Malta’s government has been reluctant to rectify the issue even though Parliamentary Secretary for Equality Rossiane Cutajar has said that women should have better access to emergency contraception and that every pharmacy in Malta should stock it.
Fearne himself has refused to answer questions sent by Lovin Malta on the issue. However, this could all be addressed in a fresh update to the decade-old sexual health policy.
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