2,000 people suffer from an eating disorder in Malta and Gozo
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Dar Kenn ghal Sahhtek, the residential home for the treatment of eating disorders anorexia, bulimia, Binge eating and obesity, will soon start providing multi-disciplinary treatment to patients after being officially inaugurated by the President of Malta, George Abela. Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, was also in attendance.
The €2.5 million project was undertaken by the Malta Community Chest Fund after it acquired the former Sisters’ Quarters at Mtarfa from the government on a 99-year emphyteusis. The project saw the building being transformed from its previous derelict state to the present state-of-the-art facility.
The centre will be run by the Foundation Kenn Ghal Sahhtek which was set up jointly by Government through the Ministry of Health and The Malta Community Chest Fund.
The Malta Community Chest Fund was assisted by medical professionals from the Umbria region, who work in the field of treating eating disorders, in setting up Dar Kenn Ghal Sahhtek. They also provided the expertise required to customise the facility to suit the specialised treatment that will be provided to people with eating disorders and obesity.
The government is funding a multidisciplinary professional team of experts who have received professional training and mentoring in Malta and in Italy under a 28 month Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Health and the Azienda Sanitaria Locale Umbria n.1 of the Umbria Region.
President George Abela said that the Malta Community Chest Fund never had its own project despite the financial assistance it provided to various non-governmental organisations to help them realise their various projects for the benefit of society.
“Research showed a lack of holistic treatment for eating disorders and just less than 2,000 persons who suffer from an eating disorder. This led the Malta Community Chest Fund to take it upon itself to transform what was a derelict building into a facility that has been professionally set up to provide multidisciplinary treatment,” President George Abela said.
“Contacts were established with a number of European countries that provided a holistic therapy for these conditions and during an official State Visit to Italy I found time to visit two centres which have been offering a holistic approach to treating eating disorders for over 10 years and from there we started working together to have this facility which we are inaugurating today.”
“Moreover, through the agreement reached between the government and the Umbria region last year a number of Maltese professionals are specialising in this sector and will be providing the necessary care for patients suffering from an eating disorder in this facility,” added President Abela.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the Ministry of Health, which will be funding the operation and providing ancillary services and equipment for the professional care which will be provided for the first time in Malta and free of charge, worked since March to ensure that what was planned by the previous administration is delivered.
“Dar Kenn ghal Sahhtek will be run in partnership with a similar Italian centre which has also helped in the training for health professionals. To complement this, since government believes in training, the professionals and employees who will administer this facility will receive continuous training. We are working on securing European funds to achieve this aim. The opening of this facility will also lead to courses at Masters level and exchange of practices and ideas with European professionals and active participation in programmes such as Erasmus +,” the Prime Minister added.
“Eating disorders are a new and hidden epidemic and in Malta it is at the same level as other European countries. As a person who has mental health care at heart, this is another service which is special due to the high level of quality and the fact that it is an initiative of the President of Malta. Psychiatry is considered the ‘cindirella’ of medicine but the President delivered a clear message that this should not be the case,” said the Chairman of the Foundation Kenn ghal Sahhtek, Dr Anton Grech.
Darleen Zerafa, Secretary to the Foundation Dar Kenn ghal Sahhtek, explained that the residential home was designed to provide in-patient and out-patient treatment according to the therapy required by each individual. “It will also serve as a half-way home for residents receiving treatment with a view to be re-integrated in society. The holistic approach also envisages that family therapy will be available to the relatives and carers of patients. The assistance, sharing of knowledge and experience provided by the Italian professionals was invaluable and will continue to assist the multidisciplinary team at Dar Kenn ghal Sahhtek over the next two years,” added Ms Zerafa.