Malta Country Drug Report 2019

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

Launched in 2008, the Maltese National Drugs Policy document addresses illicit drug problems. The strategy aims to streamline the actions of the government and non-government bodies that are responsible for delivering services to drug users. It seeks to (i) improve the quality and provision of drug-related services; and (ii) provide a more coordinated mechanism to reduce the supply of and demand for drugs in society. The strategy’s main objectives are to ensure a high level of security, health protection, well-being and social cohesion. It is primarily concerned with illicit drugs, but it also considers the abuse of prescription medications. The strategy is built around six main pillars: (i) coordination; (ii) legal and judicial framework; (iii) supply reduction; (iv) demand reduction, including harm reduction; (v) monitoring, evaluation, research, information and training; and (vi) international cooperation and funding. Forty-eight different actions are set out under these six pillars. A first progress review of the strategy was conducted in 2011.

As in other European countries, Malta evaluates its drug policy and strategy through ongoing indicator monitoring and specific research projects. A wide-ranging performance audit of problem drug use was undertaken by the National Audit Office in 2012. This mixed-methods assessment made a series of recommendations following a review of the structures and systems in place. Annual reports on the implementation of the 2008 strategy were compiled, and a progress review was undertaken in 2011.


National coordination mechanisms

The main body responsible for drug-related matters in Malta is the Advisory Board on Drugs and Addiction. The Board is part of the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. The seven members of the advisory board are independent experts from fields such as law, youth studies, education, clinical psychology, psychiatry, epidemiology and neuroscience. The National Coordinating Unit for Drugs and Alcohol, which is also part of the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity, is responsible for the implementation of the National Drugs Policy, while the main remit of the national focal point for drugs and drug dependency is that of monitoring the situation and the responses, including the effectiveness of the actions put in place as a result of the National Drugs Policy.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.