Malta the world’s 14th healthiest coun­try to live in

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - David Lind­say

We may com­plain an aw­ful lot about pol­lu­tion and our ex­ces­sively over­weight pop­u­la­tion but, ac­cord­ing to the re­spected med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet, Malta is the world’s 14th healthiest place in the en­tire world to live.

In an ex­ten­sive study pub­lished this week, The Lancet an­a­lysed liv­ing con­di­tions in no less than 188 coun­ties us­ing the United Na­tion’s Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) as guide­posts to mea­sure the qual­ity of life in 33 ar­eas such as poverty, clean wa­ter, ed­u­ca­tion, dis­ease, vi­o­lence, road in­juries, pol­lu­tion and mor­tal­ity rates.

The new study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, also placed Malta as the eighth-healthiest place to live in the Euro­pean Union.

In terms of hav­ing achieved the 17 UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, Malta came in with a rank of 80, com­pared with the world’s high­est rank­ing of 85 – shared jointly by Ice­land, Sin­ga­pore and Swe­den. The SDGs are a suc­ces­sor to the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals, a UN initiative that from 2000 to 2015 lifted a bil­lion

peo­ple out of ex­treme poverty, halved the mor­tal­ity of chil­dren younger than five years old, and raised by about 60 per cent the num­ber of births at­tended to by a skilled health worker.

Malta re­ceived its high­est marks (with scores of 100) in ar­eas where Third World coun­tries score low­est, such as disas­ter, growth stunt­ing, wast­ing (acute mal­nu­tri­tion), malaria, ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases, road in­juries, wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion, and war.

But Malta re­ceived par­tic­u­larly low rat­ings for more First World prob­lems such as be­ing over­weight (36), HIV (54), al­co­hol (62), smok­ing (54), oc­cu­pa­tional risk bur­den (70), and av­er­age PM2.5 – par­tic­u­late mat­ter air pol­lu­tion – (59).

In this week’s new anal­y­sis, pos­si­bly the most com­pre­hen­sive ever, Ice­land and Swe­den share the top slot with Sin­ga­pore.

Re­lated fig­ures pub­lished in Malta this week, through the Sta­tis­tics on In­come and Liv­ing Con­di­tions (SILC) sur­vey, showed that dur­ing 2015, Malta’s mon­e­tary at-risk-of-poverty rate stood at 16.3 per cent and the coun­try’s at-risk-of-poverty or so­cial ex­clu­sion rate stood at 22.4 per cent.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate among Mal­tese aged be­low 18 years of age stood at 23.4 per cent, and for those 65 years of age and older the rate stood at 21 per cent. Those liv­ing in sin­gle par­ent house­holds were found to be more sus­cep­ti­ble to be­ing at-riskof-poverty with a rate of 45.3 per cent.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate was found to de­crease with in­creas­ing house­hold work in­ten­sity, with 69.1 per cent of those liv­ing in house­holds with very low work in­ten­sity were at-risk-of-poverty com­pared with only 1.9 per cent for those liv­ing in house­holds with very high work in­ten­sity.

The se­vere ma­te­rial de­pri­va­tion rate stood at 8.1 per cent. More than 40 per cent were liv­ing in house­holds which claimed that not all the house­hold mem­bers could af­ford to pay for a one-week an­nual hol­i­day away from home. In ad­di­tion, 21.1 per cent said that they could not af­ford to face un­ex­pected fi­nan­cial ex­penses, while 13.9 per cent said that they could not af­ford to keep their home ad­e­quately warm in win­ter.

The Lancet’s full study – “Mea­sur­ing the health-re­lated Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals in 188 coun­tries: a base­line anal­y­sis from the Global Bur­den of Dis­ease Study 2015” – can be ac­cessed free of charge thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, at: http://www.the­lancet.com/jour­nals/lancet/ar­ti­cle/PIIS0140-6736(16)31467-2/full­text

The Malta In­ter­na­tional Air­show is un­der­way this week­end, with its tra­di­tional daz­zling aerial dis­plays such as this one per­formed yes­ter­day evening near sunset. The an­nual air­show wraps up today. Pho­to­graph: James Bianchi

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