Jamaicans Urged to Participate in Health and Lifestyle Survey

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Winston De La Haye, addresses a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on the importance of the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, on January 4.

Story Highlights

  • Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Winston De La Haye, is appealing to Jamaicans to participate in the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III, which is currently being carried out across the island by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research, in association with the Ministry.
  • Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on January 4, Dr. De La Haye indicated that the research team has been met with some amount of resistance in the field.
  • Data from the survey have provided critical information for the creation of the National Health Fund and informed the Ministry’s National Policy for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles (2004) as well as a World Bank 2011 study on Public Policy and the challenge of chronic non-communicable diseases.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Winston De La Haye, is appealing to Jamaicans to participate in the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III, which is currently being carried out across the island by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research, in association with the Ministry.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on January 4, Dr. De La Haye indicated that the research team has been met with some amount of resistance in the field.

“One of the challenges that we have faced is the collection of blood samples. Persons are not accustomed to providing a blood sample for a survey. There is fear surrounding that, but we are moving towards having clear markers by objective testing, where we can determine someone’s blood glucose level through testing, as opposed to a self-report that someone is diabetic. We are having some challenges with getting these done with the persons that we have selected,” he explained.

Dr. De La Haye added that the team has also faced reluctance, particularly from members of the middle class, to participate in the survey.

He said illness is not partial to class or status and that the information will be to the benefit of all Jamaicans.

“We are urging every Jamaican who has been selected to do their best to facilitate the research team. We understand that it is not without challenges and inconvenience. However, if we all refuse to participate, there will be no data and, therefore, at the level of the Ministry, there will be very little to act on,” he pointed out.

The CMO underscored the importance of the support of every Jamaican who has been selected by facilitating the questions, the blood testing, the urine testing and other aspects of the survey, “because it is through the individual participation that we will have an end result that will speak to the health of the country and help to inform us as it relates to policy decisions that we need to make at the Ministry”.

He noted that what is being done is scientific research and that it is totally voluntary.

“You can discontinue at any time. Everything that is being done has been reviewed by the ethics committee. The consent form that is signed clearly outlines the contact information for the accountable parties at the Ministry and at the University of the West Indies, which is a major partner on the project, to respond to any concerns that participants may have,” he explained.

The survey represents the only sequentially collected national data on chronic non- communicable diseases in the Caribbean. It has been undertaken through a collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the University of the West Indies over the past 20 years.

It provides data for the assessment of health, quality of life indices and economic expenditure in the health systems.

Data from the survey have provided critical information for the creation of the National Health Fund and informed the Ministry’s National Policy for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles (2004) as well as a World Bank 2011 study on Public Policy and the challenge of chronic non-communicable diseases.

The current project will provide nationally representative data for the population aged 15 years and older, using a sample of 3,500 persons on the four priority health areas – chronic diseases and their risk factors; sexually related conditions; violence-related injuries and deaths; and epidemics of emerging and re-emerging infections. The project provides data on the Chikungunya and Zika viruses.

JIS Social