Public health experts want voters to choose ‘candidates with a conscience’

Public health GPs call on voters in forthcoming European elections to prioritise health and mental wellbeing

Public health GPs have called on voters to prioritise health and mental wellbeing in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The appeal from the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine, called on voters to choose “candidates with a conscience” whose values prioritise collective health and wellbeing.

“Any new public policy, any new development proposed in the run-up to the elections should be considered in terms of the impact this will have on our environment and our health and wellbeing; both now and in the future.

“We encourage the public to reach out to their candidates and ask them where they stand on these crucial issues. As public health practitioners, we implore our voters to prioritise health when going to vote,” MAPHM president Dr Alexia Bezzina said.

Bezzina also said voters should not focus on immediate gains but “long-term outcomes that will leave a positive legacy” where health and wellbeing are prioritised.

Bezzina said the MAPHM aspires to have a social and physical environment that enables and supports citizens in living healthy lives, cares for the strong and the weak alike, with green spaces valued not only for environment and biodiversity but also provide as sources of mental respite and human connections.

“Any public health efforts made in this regard will have negligible effects unless there is a concerted effort by all – government, industry and civil society – to consistently and systematically consider the impacts on health in the decision-making and policy-making processes of all sectors. Achieving the right balance in our public policies is the key to a prosperous yet healthy community where wellbeing is prioritised,” Dr Bezzina said.

The latest Eurobarometer survey carried out ahead of the EP elections finds that top concerns for the Maltese are migration and asylum, public health, climate change, and the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

“These results are not surprising when considering the realities of daily life faced by many people residing in our country,” the MAPHM said.

“In spite of millions of euros spent on road widening efforts, worsening daily traffic encountered on our roads is contributing to stress and air pollution. Despite… free public transport, car dependency continues unabated. Cycle lanes are rarely incorporated into transport infrastructure, and cycling remains a dangerous commuting option for most. The urban spaces we inhabit are congested with poor planning policies resulting in overdevelopment and a lack of green spaces for recreation or exercise. All these facets of our built environment are contributing to our staggering overweight and obesity rates,” the MAPHM said.

The association also cited rising food costs, poor food choices, and the rise of mental problems among youths, as well as social media-driven anxiety, as other problems affecting the mental wellbeing of both young and old alike.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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