Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca the 9th President of Malta delivers keynote speech on maternal health at Humanity 2.0 (Vatican City)
- 19% of women experience depression after death
- 10% of women experience a mental health disorder before, during or after childbirth
- 50% of women with mental health disorders go undetected during pregnancy
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, the 9th President of Malta
Rev. Philip Larrey – Chairman, Humanity 2.0: 00:01
We are honored to welcome her excellency Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. The ninth president of Malta from 2014 to 2019 she was recently in Rome because she wanted to say goodbye to the Holy father, Pope Francis, and I think he shed a little tear. It’s common for the presidents of Malta when they finish their time to come and visit the Pope as the head of state and say goodbye. Fortunately she said goodbye to Malta, but hello to us. And she has been an inspiration for me and Morad especially but everyone at Humanity 2.0 because of her help and have a presence with us. Previously as a member of the labor party, she was a member of parliament in the house of representatives of Malta from 1998 to 2014 and served as the minister of the family and social solidarity from March 2013 to March 2014. In 2014 she announced the formation of the president’s foundation for the wellbeing of society, a nonprofit consultative, consultative and research entity advising the president of Malta on initiatives to help improve social inclusion and standards of living. She has now started her own foundation and she is a partner with Humanity 2.0 in order to provide an institutional support for the wellbeing of mothers and babies. Your excellency. Thank you for coming.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 01:54
Thank you father Philip and good morning to everyone. I feel very lucky to have managed to, to come because we were delayed from Walter this morning. Well, father Phillip, I have not said goodbye to Malta. I will never say goodbye to Malta or any other place on the planet. I am one of those that believe that there should be no borders, no passports and no visas. So everywhere is my country and I believe that each and every one of us is what part of one human family. So that is why I have joined up Humanity 2.0 and I feel very, very proud for the Malta trust foundation to be a partner. So I am convinced in fact that Humanity 2.0 has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of many women, children, families and our societies in general.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 02:53
Therefore, it is truly a pleasure to address such a distinguished audience today. Well, as Morad requested because this is how it came to me, I will give a brief description of what the Malta trust foundation stands for the mortar thrust foundation, formerly the presidents foundation. Now I am, well I had established it in 2015 and it is a privately owned pub or rather privately funded foundations, nothing to do with this state. So now I continued to chair out of the presidency. Well, the Malta trust foundation aims to inspire and support vulnerable young people to build a dignified life for themselves and this is done through empowering initiatives which we take to develop and enhance their personal and social skills.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 03:55
The more the trust foundation creates the right danger opportunities for inclusion, equality and equity and since its inception it does support it has supported marginalized young people who come from vulnerable family backgrounds, have lived in out of home care or have had a brush with justice amongst other humane situations. Young people who lack education and subsequently have no quality job prospects. Therefore, let me share our experience of some of the important projects that the Maltatrust foundation is conducting and to have a significant relevance to maternal health. One of these most important social projects for us, which the Malta trust foundation is facilitating is what we call the Why Assist initiative. This Why Assist initiative is a one-year long empowerment program which offers support to young mothers who might be experiencing either crisis pregnancies or other types of vulnerability upon giving birth.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 05:12
The foundation operates through a research-based approach and develops a business case for our initiatives. This is done purposely as we aim to invest sustainably and not simply spend. In the case of the Why Assist initiative. A research study identified that a number of young mothers not only need temporary accommodation to move out of abusive relationships, but also require empowerment to develop the necessary personal life skills and positive parenting skills in order to lead a dignified life. Are the studies show that vulnerability at the time of birth weakens the early the developmental potential. And such vulnerability continues to persist and causes disadvantages in child education, especially when compared to his or her peers coming from stable family backgrounds. Such disadvantages the recent studies show that such disadvantages actually continue to persist throughout even as an adult life.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 06:35
So these are some of the reasons that the Malta trust foundation decided to be to embark on the Why Assist initiative. Their longer Why Assists program provides for semi-independent accommodation in a community setting for pregnant young women. These young women are not only assisted by so psychosocial team, but also supported by other relevant professionals. The foundation works in a collaborative approach to operate and sustainably maintain its social projects. Therefore, for the Why Assist initiative, the Malta trust foundation is partnering which our long governmental organization to operate the program and to have enticed members of the business community to fund the whole program.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 07:29
The foundation has also embarked on another important aspect of maternal health, which is maternal mental health. The foundation has been collaborating with the maternal mental health association of Malta over these last years. And the maternal mental health association brings together all psychosocial professionals that work at the general hospital. And in particular in the maternity departments. The mortality trust foundation has been supporting this association to create more awareness of this important aspect of maternal health by, for example, organizing annual conferences. This is because this lacuna was identified in the area of maternal health, serve health care services. According to indicators from the world health organization, about 10% of all pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental health disorder, particularly depression. These indicators are even more alarming in developing countries where over 15% of women during pregnancy and 19% of women after childbirth are reported to experience depression.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 08:58
Research also shows that 50% to 75% of mothers with mental health issues are not detected. Although at the time of pregnancy and postpartum period, women have the most contact with health care professionals. Unfortunately, even in Malta where maternal health services reach high standards, we have found that maternal mental health is not given its due attention during the perinatal period even though women then to be followed intensively by different medical professions. Therefore, the need for further training of professionals was identified. A training program was developed for a team of diverse health professionals working in maternal mental health. The training focused on the early identification of difficulties in perinatal mental health and subsequently the skills needed to address these difficulties. The straining program supported by the Malta trust foundation is serving to bring about positive social, emotional and developmental health for both mother and child.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 10:18
I believe that society as a whole cannot function to its full potential unless each and every one of us is empowered. There are some of us who would need more support to take the initial steps, but with determination perseverance, I believe that we can all live full and satisfying lives and therefore contribute to the wellbeing of our human family. I also believe that our biggest investment should be by putting the human person at the center of whatever we are doing. This would guarantee the sustainable future of our world and this is the goal behind the Malta trust foundation to facilitate such initiatives as we evidence the successful outcomes that we have achieved from these initiatives and experienced the difference in the lives of mothers and children that we have come in contact with and worked with. The Malta trust foundation is even more adamant to look to look to future collaborations and initiatives with more resolve.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 11:28
As citizens of the world, we are all committed to a mandate, a mandate that nurtures maternal health and wellbeing as fundamental to life itself. We all have a commitment individually and collectively to a the sustainable development goals within the UN Agenda 2030. One particular SDG specifically assess the need to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. Two out of the nine targets specified in sustainable development goal 3, address maternal health and target 3.1 commits our global family that by 2030 we must reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per one thousand one hundred thousand live births target 3.2 commits us that by 2030 we must end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age. All countries are committed to reduce neonatal mortality to as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under five mortality to as low as 25 per 1000 live births.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 12:57
This is why the collaboration between the Malta trust foundation and Humanity 2.0 and other partners is so important and essential. In fact, I feel truly proud that my country through this collaboration between the Malta trust foundation and Humanity 2.0 lab will give further impetus in promoting the improvement of maternal health and wellbeing not only within Europe and the Mediterranean region, but also hopefully even beyond. I truly believe that the global perspective of maternal health and wellbeing has particular importance as data shows unacceptable disparities among nations in this area. There has been some progress. In fact, the world health organization estimates that maternal mortality has fallen by 37% since early 2000 in Eastern Asia, Northern Africa, and Southern Asia. Maternal mortality has declined by around two thirds. Yet in developing countries, the proportion of mothers who do not survive childbirth compared to those who do is still 14 times higher than the then in the developed regions.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 14:23
Therefore, we should ask ourselves to stimulate our thoughts and encourage us further to put our efforts in this important work. And I would ask, why do such inequalities persist? What are we doing to change these realities? Why has humanity managed to reach the moon and beyond and yet maternal and child mortality are still issues that persist in our societies. Globally, more women are receiving antenatal care, but again, this is disproportionate. In fact, in developing regions, antenatal care increase from 65% in 1992 82% in the early 2012 yet only a half of women in developing regions received the recommended amount of healthcare they need. Even in Europe, 1 in 10 women and the European union does not have access to maternal health services and the first month of pregnancy and nearly 1,800 maternal deaths occurred in Europe in 2015 this is according to a research study by MSD for mothers.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 15:40
Data also shows that maternal health remains a critical concern. Also in the European region. Many women living in Europe are still unable to gain access to timely and quality healthcare, which refugee women being particularly even more vulnerable. The same research study shows that maternal health often takes a lower priority on the healthcare agenda. Therefore, I’m looking forward to another dimension of our collaboration which Humanity 2.0 that of further promoting maternal health and wellbeing. Through a combination of education programs and direct engagement with key stakeholders and policy makers. In fact, in a few weeks’ time, the Malta trust foundation collaboration which Humanity 2.0 will be holding a round table discussion as the first tangible collaborative initiative. All maternal health stakeholders and relevant policymakers in Malta will be invited to engage actively and to discussions to bring maternal health to the fore and identify possible elections which shouldn’t turn informed.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – 9th President of Malta: 16:56
The educational programs and initiatives that will be taken up and moved more does a perfectly very to pilot such initiatives given it’s manageable size, it’s excellent track record in maternal health and the expertise achieved in the area. The geostrategic position of more than the center of the Mediterranean gives us also the advantage of a deeper understanding of the situation, our diverse region. It deserved for envisaged that true the outcomes of such a round table, a toolkit of good practice will be developed to be exported to other countries. I am convinced that this collaborative approach on the initiative of Humanity 2.0 will provide a unique opportunity to not only promote maternal health and wellbeing, but also to make it a reality for the millions of women who are still suffering or die while giving birth. Let us be the generation that makes childbirth a wonderful and spiritual experience for every mother and parents around the world. Thank you.
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