Ministry hits out at 'negative' Water Park statement by 'Labour candidate'
Updated - Adds reaction by the Resources Ministry
The NGO Celebrities for Kids has expressed concern over the advertised opening times of the new Bugibba Water Park, saying children are being encouraged to play when the sun is at its peak and at its most harmful.
In a statement over the signature of paediatric surgeon Chris Fearne, who is the chairman of the NGO, Celebrities for Kids noted that time and again prominent health professionals had advised the public on how to protect children from the harmful rays of excess summer sun.
The Maltese Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate itselfhad advised keeping children out of direct sunlight between 11am and 4pm. (Infants younger than 18 months should be kept out of the sun altogether).
"Celebrities for Kids is therefore concerned that the recently opened Water Park in Bugibba is advertising opening times of between 10am and 7pm. These opening times encourage children to play in the sun in the harmful early afternoon hours.
"Whilst welcoming the concept of safe exercise parks for our children, CfK urges the relevant authorities to reconsider the water park's opening times, to allow children to utilize the park at safer times of the day."
CfK is to launch an educational campaign centered on how best to protect children from too much sun.
In a reaction the Resources Ministry said it had noted the statement issued by Mr Fearne, a Labour Party election candidate.
“His negative statement goes contrary to the enthusiasm shown by children and their parents who have enjoyed this park, an innovation for our country,” the ministry said.
It said parents could take their children to the water park at any time they wished.
“No one expects the government to close access to the beaches when the sun is at its peak. It is always up to the parents, and that is why the government has conducted several education campaigns about the effects of the sun. In a free country such as this, the government does not intend to tell parents when they can take out their children and where to go.”
The ministry also pointed out that the children stay at the park for only 20 minutes each time. They are also encouraged to wear hats and use sunblock. Some shelters from the sun have also been installed.
“It is unfortunate that this Labour candidate has opted to be negative” the ministry said.