Article 13(2) of the International Protection Act states that asylum seekers shall have access to state medical care, with little additional information provided. The Reception Regulations further stipulate that the material reception conditions should ensure the health of all asylum seekers, yet no specification is provided as to the level of health care that should be guaranteed. The Regulations specify that applicants shall be provided with emergency health care and essential treatment of illness and serious mental disorders.
Asylum seekers outside of detention centres may access the state health services, with the main obstacles being mainly linked to language difficulties. However, institutional obstacles also prevent effective recourse to the mainstream health services when required, including in cases of emergencies. These are: limited transport availability, the absence of full-time medical staff in the detention centres, and informal transactions for medicine, etc.
As with vulnerable persons, detained asylum seekers suffering from mental health problems face the practical difficulty of not being identified, owing to the absence of a formal identification process or of full-time specialists within the detention centres. Once identified, they are generally transferred to Mount Carmel, the main public mental health facility in Malta, for treatment.
No specialised services exist in Malta for victims of torture or trauma, primarily owing to the lack of such capacity on the island.
Decisions to reduce or withdraw material reception conditions would not affect access to health care.
Access to the COVID-19 vaccine was granted to asylum seekers without limitations from 1 July 2021. Those that wished to be vaccinated could drop-in at the University of Malta without any need to pre-register. An identity document such as an asylum-seeker’s document or a police card was required. For some time, mobile teams were deployed at various locations to administer the vaccine, being staffed by medical students, civil servants, and civil society volunteers and were hugely successful particularly amongst the migrant communities.
When person gets their vaccine, they also receive a health number, which they can use to download their COVID-19 certificate from the website of the Health Ministry. In practice, many asylum seekers face difficulties in accessing the certificate due to the language barrier, lack of phone or IT skills.
 Regulation 11(2) Reception Regulations.