Rare Diseases
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Rare Diseases



Find out more about the International Rare Disease Day
by clicking the image

Contact Person:  Dr. Francis Agius​

 'Rare diseases are rare, but rare diseases patients are numerous' 

​(Gliklich & Dreyer, 2010)

A rare disease is one that affects less than 1 in 2000 persons. 25% of all known and documented diseases occurring in humans may be classified as rare. In Malta, every day there are 25 - 30,000 persons that wake up fighting the battle of a rare disease. For this reason, the Ministry feels that it needs to be closer to these people in helping them to enhance their quality of life.

Most of these rare diseases are genetic and chronic. It is estimated that 80% are genetic. Symptoms of rare diseases may appear at birth or in childhood, but sometimes appear once adulthood is reached.


Our aim is tp ensure earlier diagnosis to preserve and enhance the patient's quality of life by improved access to healthcare, but also in other sectors like education and social services.

Specific aims of the Rare Disease Register include:

To harvest data collected from a number of other sources (including the Congenital Anomalies Register, the Cancer Registry and Treatment Abroad) and a register of cases of patients suffering from rare diseases will be compiled.

To provide a surveillance function by using registry data to examing trends by age and gender, by rare disease type, over time and across the nation. This is performed by issuing regular reports and by providing physicians and the general public with information they may need, while respecting stict confidentiality.

To facilitate epidemiological research. Much remains either unknown or poorly understood about the causes and the potential for prevention in the rare disease sphere. Once set up, the registry should be able to respond to a number of requests from people of differing interests, like students, clinicians and journalists. It also contributes information to international publications and databases.


Up until now, data on certain rare diseases are collected through other sources like the Congenital Anomalies Register, the Cancer Registry and from Treatment Abroad. We have never had a registry specific for rare diseases. In recent years there has been a push from EU through 'Orphanet' to give a voice to people who have no voice. The rare diseases register will help in working on the rare diseases policy. 

'Orphanet' is a website that is updated on a regular basis with information that is based on published scientific articles. Its main aim is to provide rare diseases information to not only healthcare professionals, but also patients and their relatives. Information in 'Orphanet' is not intended to replace professional health care.

The Orphanet website can be accessed by pressing the image below.



The register is population-based and aims at covering most diagnoses falling under the definition of rare diseases. Eventually the list could run into several thousands of cases based on comparable International prevalence rates in other countries.

Data Sources and Collection of Information

Data can be collected from:

  • ​Congenital Anomalies Register
  • Cancer Registry
  • Treatment Abroad Registry
  • Patient Registries

Data on rare diseases is coded using the Orphanet Classification of Rare Diseases​


The National Alliance for Rare Diseases is a non-governmental organisation which brings together all the stakeholders including patients and their relatives, researchers, medical professionals and other organisations representing specific conditions. Representation of patients has been magnified with more care, support and awareness increasing for the benefit of the patients and their relatives. The National Alliance and its founder, The Marigold Foundation, worked incessantly, so that a National Register was started in collaboration with the Ministry for Health in 2016. This National Register is making it possible to trace rare conditions and diseases in Malta.


 Click here​ to view the website of the National Alliance for Rare Diseases Support


EURORDIS is a non-governmental patient-driven alliance of patient organisations and individuals active in the field of rare diseases, dedicated to improving the quality of life of all people living with rare diseases in Europe. For more information about this organisation, click on the image below. 



The aim of the registry is to collect as much information as possible on rare diseases in Malta. With this in mind, we encourage doctors to notify us of patients who have been diagnosed with a rare disease. The Malta Rare Disease Register collects and processes personal information for statistical and research purposes and in the interests of public health. All data is collected and processed in accordance to the Data Protection Act (Malta, 2001). To submit your notification, please click here​