President urges action on non-communicable diseases

H.E. the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca spoke decisively about crunch time for all significant bodies “to move from rhetoric to action” to better address non-communicable diseases. This was said during her speech at the UN General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases earlier this week.

The President explained that, although Malta is no exception to the global rise in non-communicable diseases, the leading cause of death is cardiovascular. However, while deaths from ischemic heart disease have shown a consistent decrease, the rate of cancer cases is set to increase to 49% by 2030, and Malta’s obesity rate also remains a major cause for concern.

With a lot left to address in terms of public health, the President was pleased that the government “has reacted to this situation primarily through legislation.” She then detailed how Malta was a forerunner in tobacco control laws, as well as being an active participant in the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Apart from an inter-ministerial holistic approach to addressing these issues, there have also been a number of initiatives put in place to address health inequalities.

Turning specifically to the topic at hand of non-communicable diseases, the President mentioned a number of strategies aimed at reducing the impact of these ailments. In particular: the Food and Nutrition Policy and Action Plan for Malta; a National Alcohol Policy; and a National Cancer Strategy. The Emmanuele Cancer Research Foundation and the National Cancer Foundation were also mentioned in her speech saying they “will provide innovative and much-needed research.”