The Sovereign Order of Malta is a global institution operating medical, social and humanitarian projects in 120 countries. A subject of international law and a lay religious order of the Catholic Church, the Sovereign Order of Malta has bilateral diplomatic relations with over 100 states and the European Union, and permanent observer status at the United Nations. It is neutral, impartial and apolitical. The Order of Malta is especially involved in helping people living in the midst of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing medical assistance, caring for refugees and distributing medicines and basic equipment for survival. Day-to-day, its broad spectrum of social projects provides constant support to excluded members of society. Across the world, the Order of Malta is dedicated to the preservation of human dignity and the care of all those in need, regardless of race or religion. Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta has a long history of service to the vulnerable and the sick. This 900-year history is reflected in its full name: Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. Since 1834 the Order of Malta’s government seat has been in Rome, where it is guaranteed extraterritorial rights. The Order of Malta operates through 12 Priories, 48 national Associations, 133 diplomatic missions, 1 worldwide relief agency and 33 national relief corps, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centres and specialist foundations. It does not pursue any economic or political goal and does not depend on any other state or government.
The Order of Malta is permanently present with medical, social and humanitarian projects in most countries in the world. Its 13,500 members, 80,000 permanent volunteers and qualified staff of 42,000 professionals – most of whom are medical personnel and paramedics – form an efficient network that includes everything from hospital work, healthcare and emergency relief for people living through war or famine, to intervention in areas hit by natural disasters, general medical care and social services.