COHEIRS Project - Press Release

The Birgu Local Council organised the second workshop of the COHEIRS project, entitled ‘L-Ambjent u s-Saħħa Tiegħek’ (The Environment and your Health).
The seminar which was moderated by Ms Moira Azzopardi, Project Coordinator for the Birgu Local Council, was opened by Mr Mark Causon who gave a brief summary of what the COHEIRS project is about, whilst introducing the speakers and the topics that were going to be discussed during this workshop.
Ms Stefania Carletti, project observer, on behalf of Patto Territoriale Oristano did a powerpoint presentation where she introduced the City of Oristano and Patto Territoriale Oristano, the organisation she works for. SIL Patto Territoriale is a local intermediary body and operating as a Local Development Agency, whose institutional aim is the promotion of socio-economical and occupational development in the Province of Oristano. PTO implements all necessary, useful and proper actions to work out development plans in a sustainable, unitary and integrated form, by encouraging private entrepreneurial skills and the required public ventures through the participation of internal/external active stakeholders, taking benefits from financial grants at the regional, national and community level.
Ms Carletti also gave information about the involvement of her organisation within the COHEIRS project, its aims and some information about other projects in which the organisation is involved in.
Mr Mark Causon, Director for Genista Research Foundation emphasised the importance of living life in a healthy environment. During his presentation entitled ‘L-Ambjent u s-Saħħa Tiegħi’ (The Environment and My Health) various risks and violations to the environment and the sea were mentioned, mainly:
•          Pollution, oil spillages which greatly endangers our waters and the existence of its living creatures
•           Gas emissions in Malta
•           Pollution eminating from the heavy traffic in our roads
•           Pesticides, insecticides and herbicides which are all toxic refuse
•           Irresponsible dumping in the countryside
Mr Causon also mentioned some points about what can be done to help reduce these risks and violations:
•           The proper way to get rid of used batteries and expired medicine
•           Use of solar panels and solar heaters
•           Reducing, Recycling and Reusing
Ms Pauline Camilleri spoke about the major environmental hazards in our islands especially in the Southern Region of which Birgu makes part. However, Ms Camilleri stated that air quality is not the only factor that effect human health.
She mentioned the problem of air pollution and the major air pollutants in Malta, the ozone and its effects on our health and the environment.
Then she also mentioned practical mitigation measures that can be taken to help reduce the hazards to the environment, such as:
•           Energy/water conservation
•           Use of public transport
•           Renewable sources of energy
Profs. Stephen Montefort, Malta’s leading asthma specialist, stated that everybody speaks about the importance of having a healthy environment outside, but it seems that everyone forgets that we spend many hours indoors and therefore all care and attention must be given to keep a healthy environment even when inside the home.
He gave some basic information about what is asthma, its symptoms, what can create it and how can one reduce the risks.
Prof. Montefort stated that more than a third of Maltese schoolchildren living in the southern area, in the vicinity of Marsa Power Station have a high incidence of asthma. The international research known as ISAAC (International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) concluded that Malta has one of the highest asthma prevalence in children in the world.
There are three studies researching on a national basis the effects of air quality in Maltese children. One research specifically targets primary school children. Another research, part financed by the European Union (Respira project) will assess 600 secondary schoolchildren.
Furthermore, research shows that 16% of Maltese teenagers aged between 13 and 14 suffer from asthma symptoms. This makes Malta the third highest country in the European Union when it comes to teenagers suffering from asthma.
He concluded by saying that although asthma cannot be cured, it can be effectively treated. Research shows that with proper treatment, nearly all asthma patients can achieve and maintain good asthma control, enabling them to participate in school, work, and other normal activities and prevent visits to the emergency department and hospital.
Ms Moira Azzopardi, project coordinator for the Birgu Local Council and Mr Mark Causon, presented the conclusions from the workshop seminar where participants where asked to discuss the issue of health vis a vis the enviornment we live in.