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Health Education Officer for St. Elizabeth, Delphene Grandison is encouraging all Jamaicans to make proper use of the various preventative health programmes being initiated by the Ministry of Health through the Regional Health Authorities.
Making specific reference to the parish of St. Elizabeth, Mrs. Grandison said that for quite some time now, “we have been promoting a wellness programme which is conducted at the Santa Cruz Health Centre every Wednesday. However, what we have noticed is that there are still many individuals who are not accessing the services that we offer in spite of the fact that it comes a very reasonable rate”.
“At the clinics we do urine tests, check the levels of haemoglobin, cholesterol and blood sugar, heart or ECG, height and weight measurement, body mass index .we also conduct a proper physical examination as well as offer health education and counselling,” she indicated.
There is also a mobile outreach unit offering the same services that visits numerous communities in the parish on a monthly basis. The Health Education Officer pointed out that all the services were offered under the direct supervision of a doctor and a nurse.
“Remember that your health is your wealth so make a wise investment and so once you are over 15 years-old visit either the Santa Cruz Health Centre or if you hear that the mobile unit is coming to your area, make the effort to pay it a visit.all the services come at a minimal cost,” she said.
In a April 2004 publication by the Ministry of Health entitled the ‘National Policy for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle in Jamaica’, it was noted that over the past half Century, the major cause of death and disability in the island have shifted from communicable and infectious diseases to chronic diseases.
These health conditions are largely rooted in the lifestyles of Jamaicans and include: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer, which now account for 56 per cent of all deaths.
The study also noted that there were certain “disturbing trends” especially in the area of reproductive health, with statistics indicating that sexual activity began from as early as 13.4 years for boys and 15.9 years for girls.
It states that in addition, 40 per cent of Jamaican women become pregnant at least once before they reach 20 years of age.
All of this is coupled with the fact that the HIV infection rates increases annually with the highest infection rate being in the 10-19 year age cohort.