This morning the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing, received the President of the Republic of Albania, Bujar Nishani, on an official visit. The President was received in the courtyard of the Grand Magistry in Rome with military honours and afterwards met with the Grand Master. President Nishani expressed his gratitude for the health and social care projects that the Order of Malta, with whom Albania has enjoyed diplomatic relations for 22 years, is running in the country.
“Over the years, hundreds of Order of Malta volunteers in Albania have assisted people in difficulty, especially in the north of the country. The Albanian population will not forget the aid provided in healthcare, education and social services, as well as their contribution in civil emergencies, such as managing the flow of refugees from Kosovo in 1999,” said the Albanian President Bujar Nishani.
“During the last 22 years, the Order of Malta has been present in Albania to assist the poor and sick both in emergencies and in daily life. This service will now be further developed thanks to the cooperation agreement signed last June, a milestone in the history of our diplomatic relations,” the Grand Master said.
The agreement, signed in Tirana and effective as from last October, provides for the consolidation and promotion of the Order’s healthcare and disaster risk reduction and education projects. “I’m certain,” President Nishani said, “that thanks to the new agreement we will meet needs in the medical, social and humanitarian aid sector, laying the groundwork for even more specific agreements in the future”.
In February 2015, following the floods in the country, the Order of Malta’s embassy in Albania funded rescue and assistance operations for the population. Thanks to the embassy’s contribution it was possible to distribute food, electric fires and health kits and schooling was organized for children in the flooded areas.
Also in 2015, the 20th anniversary was celebrated of the Order’s auxiliary organisation, Malteser Albania, fully engaged in managing projects in the medical, social and civil defence fields. These include the organization of first-aid courses in schools and assistance to some 4000 persons living in remote areas without medical coverage.
Autistic children from 3 to 16 years are assisted in the only autistic centre in the north of the country. The Order of Malta in Albania is also running various programmes for the Roma people to help them integrate into society.
At the end of the official visit, President Nishani was taken to the St. John the Baptist hospital in Rome, managed by the Order of Malta’s Italian Association. This facility is specialised in psycho-motor rehabilitation of patients with serious brain damage.