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Deal for computer aided joint surgery is clinched

Dr Rebers, centre, and Josie Muscat of St James Hospital sign the agreement. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Dr Rebers, centre, and Josie Muscat of St James Hospital sign the agreement. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Computer assisted orthopaedic surgery and custom-made joint replacements will now be available in Malta thanks to an agreement reached between Saint James Hospital and an international centre of excellence in Germany.

The International Knee and Hip Centre - Malta will be run by Dr Ulrich Rebers and his wife Xenia Lorenz-Rebers from Germany.

Dr Rebers has 20 years’ experience as senior consul-tant orthopaedic surgeon in his country and is one of the pioneers of computer assisted orthopaedic surgery in Europe. He has carried out more than 5,000 replacements.

Josie Muscat, chairman of the St James Group, yesterday hailed the agreement as a “milestone” in the medical field.

He said this development was also crucial for medical tourism, which enabled private hospitals to survive.

Medical tourism had not picked up since the financial crisis of 2009 and Libyan patients were at present the hospital’s “lifeline”, he said. The new technology offered “renewed hope” and opportunities for patients. Dr Rebers said the new centre of excellence will offer highly sophisticated techniques for navigated knee replacements, 3D hip planning and custom-made hip and knee replacements.

The computer technology gives a higher degree of accuracyin replacements and there-fore a greater probability of success. Patients will also have the option for tailor-made knee or hip replacements.

Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia welcomed the agreement saying that public-private partnerships were crucial to maximising resources and for the sustainability of public healthcare.

This agreement was important in the context of the EU’s cross-border directive which will come into force in Malta on October 25.

Through this directive EU citizens may receive healthcare in another member state and charge the cost back to their respective national health systems. However, reimbursement may not exceed the cost of the treatment in the individuals’ home countries.

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