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Health Inspectorate History

The civil authorities in Malta have long felt the need to carefully manage public health issues to control the spread of disease and care for the diseased and infirm individuals in society. During the Medieval Period, the responsibility of caring for the sick and infirm was further strengthened with the spreading cult of Christ the Healer which led to sick-nursing being viewed as a Christian duty. This encouraged royal dignitaries and philanthropic individuals to donate funds towards the institution and maintenance of a hospital or hospice, the management of these institutions being often shared by the civil and the religious authorities. The Maltese Islands have been serviced by a series of hospitals, the earliest dating to the fourteenth century.

Measures to prevent the introduction of infection were recorded in the early 1500’s, when ships were isolated in Marsamxett Harbour.  An organized enforcement body, the ‘Magistri Sanitatis,’ was set up in 1538, during the time of the Order of St John.  Strict enforcement of the law was practiced and emphasis was made on the construction of intricate sewage and drinking water systems, some of which are still operational to this very day. In January 1799, an inspector, Mattew Pulis, was shot by the French as his ‘right of entry’ enabled him to act as a go-between the Maltese insurgents both inside and outside the walls of Valletta.

Following a Royal Commission in 1838, the Water Police and the Quarantine Departments were amalgamated under the Superintendent of Quarantine.  A review of measures to prevent disease gave rise to a comprehensive set of regulations which were later consolidated in a special ordinance embodied in Maltese law.  The next major changes took place in 1885 and 1895, with the formation of the Public Health Department.  Someone who left his mark during this time was Sir Temi Zammit, a Medical Officer of Health who was instrumental in the initiation of chlorination of water supplies, six months after its benefits were discovered in the United Kingdom.  In 1887, together with Sir Robert Bruce, a British army doctor, Dr. Zammit isolated the Brucella melitensis organism from the spleen of a dead British soldier.  Another Sanitary Inspector of note was the writer Ninu Cremona who was appointed as a Sanitary Inspector in 1904 after having attended for a course in the Ashton School of Hygiene at the University of Liverpool.

The designation of Sanitary Inspector was changed to that of Health Inspector by means of Act XX of the 12th December 1957. ​

 Postal Information
Environmental Health Directorate,
Continental Business Centre, Level 1,
Old Railway Road,
Santa Venera, SVR 9018

 Office Hours
07:30am : 03:30pm (Winter)
07:00am : 03:00pm (Summer)

(+356) 21337333