ITAMA was officially launched in Malta on the 30th of January 2019. The event gathered all the partners together to present the project to attendees from different backgrounds. The launch was mainly aimed at informing stakeholders from local schools about the need for this screening project, the benefit for the children taking part in the program and the way the testing is planned to be performed.

The event was held at the University Campus in Valletta and was opened by Dr Denis Vella Baldacchino, Chief Medical Officer on behalf of the Ministry for Health. Dr Vella Baldacchino spoke about the increasing incidence of coeliac conditions in Malta and about the importance of such screening programs from the point of view of the Ministry for Health. The audience was then addressed by Hon Dr Aaron Farrugia, Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue. Hon Dr Farrugia highlighted the various projects and investments that the ministry is doing with EU funds and the benefits that the local society is acquiring from such projects.

Hon Dr Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment followed with a short speech where he recognized the benefits to be reaped from this program and extended the ministry’s full support within the local state schools. Prof Giuseppe Raso, Coordinator of the Project from the University of Palermo proceeded with giving out a presentation on the project preconditions, aims and planned outcomes.

The event continued with presentations from the medical team of the project: Prof Giuseppe Magazzu from University of Messina, Dr Christopher Barbara Clinical Chairman of the Pathology Department at Mater Dei Hospital and Dr Ramon Bondin from the Paediatrics Department at Mater Dei Hospital. Their presentations were more technical explaining the effects of coeliac on the human body and on the quality of life of non-diagnosed patients. They emphasized on the importance of early diagnosis that can save patients serious side effects along the years. Dr Bondin explained to the audience how the schools will be involved in the project and how the testing is planned to be carried out with their support.

Ms. Angele Giuliano, Managing Director of AcrossLimits Ltd moderated the event. A Q&A session followed with the audience where a lot of positive feedback was received both by School Management/Education stakeholders and by the representatives of CAM (Coeliac Association Malta).