Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta

Diseases & Epidemics

Combatting infectious diseases and epidemics

At the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Order of Malta’s most important task was to ensure that its health and social care programmes on the five continents were secure in order to continue patients’ treatment, procedures and support. Many of these programmes were subsequently expanded and/or converted into prevention and treatment for Covid patients as well as social, psychological and material assistance. Grand Priories, Associations, Relief Corps, doctors and volunteers rallied alongside the national health services to bring assistance, economic support and hope, especially to those most affected by the pandemic.

The Order continues to combat major epidemics – tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS – which are still the main causes of death in Africa. Its organization in South Africa provides ART essential drugs to those with HIV, regularly delivering them with its mobile clinic to patients living alone in poverty and isolation. The Order also runs a facility in Mandeni, South Africa for children orphaned by the spread of HIV.

In recent years, Malteser International has also been at the forefront in the fight against the transmission of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, working closely with the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

Malteser International is combating the partial and severe malnutrition of children in northern Uganda, where drought and overpopulation have had disastrous impacts. In Haiti – where the Order of Malta has been operating since 1995 – cholera prevention programmes are essential to stop the spread of the disease.

Hansen’s disease or leprosy is a ‘Pathology of Poverty’ that can be treated. Widely stigmatized over the centuries and still today, leprosy strikes in conditions of extreme poverty, malnutrition, overcrowding and lack of healthcare. The Order of Malta has been fighting to eradicate this disease for the past 60 years, at the same time providing assistance to those affected. Today, there are research programmes for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with leprosy, especially in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

In its over 60 years of activity, the Order of Malta’s CIOMAL Foundation has intervened in the fight against leprosy in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Tunisia, Mauritania, Senegal, Benin, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cuba, Brazil and Micronesia. The CIOMAL Foundation currently helps victims of leprosy in Cambodia, Brazil, Mauritania and Vietnam. Particular attention is paid to supporting former patients in their social and economic reintegration.

The Order of Malta’s activities in 120 countries

Map indicates capital cities of countries where the Order of Malta runs medical, social, or humanitarian projects
Diseases & Epidemics