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Free diabetes glucose monitors rolled out to those aged under 35

Wearable glucose monitors will be made freely available for people with type 1 diabetes aged under 35, Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced.

The authorities originally promised that the devices would be introduced to this age group by the end of 2022. 

Continuous blood glucose monitors reduce the need for finger-prick blood tests and help people with diabetes manage their condition.

The Maltese Diabetes Association has called for the devices to be offered to all those with type 1 diabetes, saying they need to be recognised as "an important necessity" and "definitely not a luxury".

Fearne said the process began this month, and that “hundreds” of people in that age group have already received an appointment to receive their free wearable glucose monitors. 

He said the plan is that in the first six months of 2024, the scheme will be extended to those under the age of 45.

“We do not open the scheme to all age groups all at once as it is a new service and patients need the correct guidance to ensure that the service is used correctly and in the best manner,” he said. 

Health Minister Chris Fearne on Tuesday. Photo: Giulia MagriHealth Minister Chris Fearne on Tuesday. Photo: Giulia Magri

Continuous blood glucose monitors keep track of a patient’s blood glucose levels using a tiny sensor placed under the skin. The sensor sends out alerts when levels get too low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia). 

The government first ran a pilot project offering the monitors to children and young people under the age of 16 in 2021. In April 2022, the devices were distributed to patients aged up to 21 and later extended to those aged 23. 

“We have seen that this scheme has been a success, not only by keeping the patient and their career’s mind at rest that their blood sugars are being monitored regularly, but we have seen through a number of studies that these monitors have reduced the risk of children and young adults facing complications later on in life,” Fearne said. 

Fearne said that those persons living with type 1 diabetes under the age of 35 who still have not received an appointment for their monitor can contact the ministry.