Most Of This Island???s Health Challenges Are Preventable

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Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, examining some of the??items on dental care on display at the health fair. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)??

Barbados’ national profile shows that most health care challenges are, at the individual level, preventable and manageable.

And, according to Health Minister, Donville Inniss, this is a sign that Barbadians are not doing enough in terms of early diagnosis, care and treatment of major illnesses, especially Non-Communicable Diseases.

Mr. Inniss was at the time addressing students of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) at the start of their fourth annual health day, fair and HIV Food Bank drive at the institution’s Wildey campus, today.??

While noting that he welcomed any opportunity to speak with young people about health, he described the fair’s theme, Your Health Status is Your Responsibility, as "simple and profound as one could want it to be." ????????????????????

"The responsibility lies with you, the individual, to know your health status. Start treating your health as a priority. Put your health ahead of your cell phone, liming in the bar, going overseas on vacation, buying a new car or simply doing nothing…Do not pass the buck. Do not put off till tomorrow that which you can do today. It may save your life," he cautioned.??

He urged members of the public to get their blood pressure checked, and warned about dismissing persistent symptoms, and called on men in particular not to delay visiting a clinic to have a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test.??

"…Human nature is such that if you wake up a morning and see a rash all over your body, then you may immediately rush off to the doctor without even taking a bath or brushing your teeth – such is the urgency. However, if you start to feel lethargic or have an occasional tingling in the toes, you are apt to dismiss such [symptoms] and it may take a year or two before seeking the advice of a doctor… We seem to have dismissed the old saying that ???an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ he contended.

The Minister stated his intention to continue to be frank with Barbadians to give them a better appreciation of the health situation, whilst at the same time, giving them the opportunity to help government to identify solutions.

"Above all, it helps our citizens become more aware of what each person can do to lead healthier lifestyles and to help contain the national cost of health care. I am satisfied that this approach has begun to yield fruit.?? The incidence of cancers, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases continue to take their toll on the lives of so many in our society. Not only are we speaking of mortality rates, but also the fact that so many sick days are recorded in the workforce, low productivity, loss of income to families and disruption of family units, all have severe social and economic consequences to individuals, families and societies," Mr. Inniss stated.

Chairman of the Board of the SJPP, Desmond Browne, mentioned the institution’s plans to improve student services, including the stationing of a nurse on campus.

"That kind of service is needed.?? There are a number of students from year to year who have several challenges in terms of their social needs, health needs and sometimes even issues of moral responsibility.?? Within the staff that we have here we must begin to roll out structured programmes to deal with these issues.?? You [students] are an age group where you are not only vulnerable…?? Whilst I have also remarked that a single counsellor cannot deal with all the issues at the Polytechnic, we have to begin to look at ways of mentoring, providing advice, guidance and encouragement," he indicated.

The Health Fair was sponsored by the Technical Vocational and Education and Training Council and the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited.

lisa.bayley@barbados.gov.bb

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