Despite the trumpeting and fanfare by the Health Minister who recently boasted that the Pharmacy of Your Choice Scheme has been a ‘resounding success’ and that it will shortly be introduced in Gozo, it is clear that where the South of Malta is concerned, the scheme has not even began to operate in its numerous towns.
The problem of out of stock medicines in government dispensaries such as the one at paola is constantly getting worse creating rifts between the on duty pharmacists and the public at large. Some cases have reported waiting times of at least three hours to be served. Occasionally the pharmacists have had to bear the brunt of verbal taunts and even light physical violence and a serious incident is only waiting to happen if the situation is not tackled immediately.
The POYC scheme which allows patients to pick up medicines they are entitled to for free from their chosen pharmacy was originally meant to be available throughout Malta and Gozo by the end of 2008 but as with many of the government’s pre-electoral promises, this did not happen. The Out of stock medicines problem afflicts the POYC scheme as well.
Several reasons have been blamed for the scheme’s roll out delay including staff shortages, medicine shortages, lack of infrastructure as well as non co-operation of certain pharmacies and importers. The system has continued to operate in just 27 localities, where almost 30,000 patients can pick up their medicines from 68
pharmacies although this amount is definitely a far cry from the complete coverage that the Prime Minister promised before the election.
For reasons best known to itself, the government continues to procrastinate on the rollout of the POYC scheme in the South with the situation getting worse with every passing day.