Most of the Order of Malta’s hospitals are situated in Europe – in particular in Germany, France, England and Italy, with the majority as general hospitals. The Order’s hospital in Rome is specialised in neurological treatment and rehabilitation. The hospital in England, and some in Germany, have special units for the treatment of the terminally ill, with appropriate palliative specialists. Similar special units work in Argentina, Australia, Italy, South Africa and the United States. Care for the terminally ill in hospitals, hospices and at home has developed during recent years into one of the key projects among the Order’s activities. The combination of round-the-clock care and specially trained volunteers in an environment which operates according to Catholic ethics is an important part of the Order’s medical involvement.
As a joint activity of the whole Order, a maternity hospital in Bethlehem, Palestine, is run under the operational responsibilities of the French Association. The hospital provides the population of Bethlehem and its surroundings with an indispensable service, offering women of the region the only possible place to give birth under European medical standards. Since 1990, more than 54,000 babies have been born there. The salaries paid to the 140 local employees provide support for over 2,000 people.
The Order runs 11 medical centres in Lebanon, three of which were badly damaged in recent conflicts but have now been restored to full service, caring for the local populations of all of the country’s religious groups. Entire regions depend on this healthcare and the centres provide 250,000 medical services a year, not including innumerable local medical visits to the smaller villages.
As well as the medical centres and the hospitals it runs in France, the French Association runs hospitals and dispensaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Madagascar and Togo. In Senegal and Cambodia the Order runs special hospitals for leprosy sufferers. For a long time leprosy relief has been one of the main activities of the Order’s work in the Third World.
The Order also operates many medical centres around the world. In Italy there are specialised institutions for the care of diabetics. There is a similar institution in Prague, Czech Republic, for children. The institutions founded in Lebanon and El Salvador during the civil wars, are now an important part of their national health systems.
In the United States the American, Federal, and Western Associations, operate a hospital, in the north of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It has 64 beds, a paediatric wing, specialty outpatient clinics, maternity services, and a modern laboratory. It is the only hospital in the region. The Dominican Association runs specialist centres providing medical services for mothers and children.
There are also medical centres in Poland, Hungary, the United States, Brazil, Peru and South Africa. In developing countries, many hospitals, medical centres and dispensaries are supported, and at times directed, by the Order.
The wide-ranging medical aid provided by Malteser International in DR Congo includes support for more than 350 health centres, the provision of medical and psychosocial care for abused women, assistance for trauma patients, as well as the rehabilitation of many of the country’s health facilities and public infrastructure.
AIDS programmes are underway in Africa and Central America, with special institutions caring for afflicted mothers and their infants in South Africa and the Philippines.