The University of Malta (UM) will, through its Faculty for Social Wellbeing (FWS) be working together with Dar Kenn Għal Saħħtek (DKS) to enhance the services presently offered by the Centre for the Treatment of Eating Disorders to over 1,500 patients.
Upon signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday 5 March 2020, the latter has agreed to provide funding to the Faculty in order to undertake a one-year research exercise.
This exercise will assist both entities in better understanding to what extent the present treatments and therapies offered to these patients are effective, and, by looking at various socio-demographic variables such as gender, age and educational background, determining how to better help patients overcome their disorder. This study will, for the first time in Malta, look at the reality of eating disorder in younger teenagers, aged between 10 and 16 years.
An NSO survey conducted in 2014 revealed that nearly 1% of people aged between 16 and 50 years are suffering from an eating disorder, which has a possibility of relapse and in some cases, fatality.
According to the Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing, Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, the issue has, since then, escalated even more. “With the incidence of eating disorders unfortunately being more common than people think it is, the importance of this study is high. The desired outcome of encouraging more people to seek help which is readily available, is fuelling our eagerness to undertake this study and to collaborate with Dar Kenn Għal Saħħtek on this and future initiatives”, reiterated Prof. Azzopardi.
The study will also ultimately help DKS widen its reach and cater for the Maltese society at large, especially since both entities involved in this collaboration believe there are many sufferers who are not yet seeking professional help to effectively deal with their eating disorders.
In this regard, Dr Anton Grech, Chairman of DKS, commented that “At Kenn Għal Saħħtek, we have the philosophy of providing evidence-based services. This research will help us to provide our services with this approach. This research is also an excellent example of how research in collaboration with the University of Malta, can be utilised for the benefit of Maltese society.”
On the day of the signing, UM Rector Prof. Alfred J. Vella told attendants that the University welcomed this study as a practical application of the research ongoingly undertaken by the UM community. “I’m extremely pleased when our stakeholders approach us and share with us the issues they are faced with on a daily basis. Other than our role to be the primary educators of future cohorts of professionals, another integral part of our duty at the University is to conduct timely research to improve the wellbeing of our society, especially if there are pressing issues many individuals are afflicted by.”