Combating heart disease
The Malta Heart Foundation is being relaunched tomorrow in a bid to increase awareness of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and support patients
Heart disease is responsible for more deaths every year than any other condition. In Europe, 10,000 people are diagnosed with heart disease every day and 15 million Europeans live with the illness.
Maltese figures are also disquieting: cardiovascular disease accounted for 38 per cent of all deaths in 2014.
It is within this context that the Malta Heart Foundation is being relaunched after a few years of inactivity.
The aim of this foundation is to fund cardiac-related research and provision of information, donate life-saving equipment such as AEDs and educate the public while also supporting patients suffering from heart conditions.
“As a nation, the health of the Maltese is improving. However, we are still deficient in areas of health education, obesity, smoking and lack of exercise,” says Samuel Attard, speaking on behalf of the foundation’s board.
The NGO, founded in 2009 by heart specialists Alex Manché and Albert Fenech, now has medical students at its helm. Apart from Attard, the board comprises Jean Claude Scicluna, Matthew Farrugia, Jurgen Gatt, Owen Micallef and Becky Dalli. The late President Emeritus Guido de Marco was the patron of the foundation.
“While MHF’s founders continue to be active and present in our strategy and long-term plan, a fresh image is needed for the sake of renewal, just like any other company or entity,” state the board members.
They claim to have many “fresh ideas” and they are in contact with a number of entities with the aim of launching initiatives that would increase awareness and knowledge among Maltese society.
“Our main concern is the severe lack of education among the population despite the high incidence of heart disease in Malta. We wish that more and more people would take heart disease seriously and not just consider it an old-age disease.
“One must improve diet and lifestyle trends from a tender age as well as frequently look up information and advice to better adjust one’s lifestyle.”
The group is currently working on the launch of a new website with relevant information as regards living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Besides, they are publishing numerous infographics across social media and, at a later stage, they also plan to organise information sessions for the foundation’s members and the public.
“Further to these concerns, and following the completion of our relaunch, we aim to unveil effective, realistic educational campaigns to ensure that heart disease is given the awareness it deserves.
“We will also support reputable research done by leading University of Malta labs into more effective treatment through exposure and donations.
“Finally, we will also look to increase the number of AEDs available around Malta, as well as ensure that more and more people are equipped with the skills required to use AEDs in case of an emergency.”
The board members know they have a tough road ahead to achieve their goals but this does not dishearten them as they are passionate about their cause.
“There is a long way to go to truly achieve our vision for this foundation, however, the whole team is driven by the knowledge that all initiatives will benefit a fitting and worthy cause, tackling a disease which is an ailment for a great part of the population,” says Attard.
“We believe that through our dedication, coupled with an understanding of the new era of marketing tools and social media, as well as eagerness to achieve new heights, will be enough to relaunch the MHF as well as lead it to achieve its short- and long-term goals.”
The foundation is soon launching a membership scheme and anyone interested in becoming a member and receiving information about MHF’s initiatives can contact the board via the Facebook page Malta Heart Foundation or send an e-mail to [email protected].
The official relaunch of the foundation is taking take place tomorrow during a gala dinner at Le Meridien in St Julian’s at 8pm. There will be a raffle in aid of the foundation and performances from Sammy Galea and Alex Manché, among others. The aim of the event is to collect funds to donate cardiac-related equipment such as AEDs, cardiac-related research and awareness campaigns. For more information and to request an invite, send a private message on the Malta Heart Foundation Facebook Page.