Dr Ahmad Risk ended a two-month stint as a locum medic in Jamestown’s hospital by telling Saint FM listeners his views on the state of healthcare on St Helena. He had high praise for staff, but also raised concerns about facilities, the airport, and the alarming number of people suffering diabetes and hypertension. St Helena Government has responded to his comments.
The doctor said young people were being led into the grip of some of the worst medical killers and that it was the duty of parents and schools to help them live more healthily. What role do schools currently play in preventing diabetes, obesity and hypertension?
SHG: The Education Directorate are concerned that young people make the best choices they can about their personal health. This includes becoming informed about the effect of diet on health.
As part of the Personal, Social and Health Education programme, children are informed about healthy living. For example, the health promotion coordinator regularly visits primary schools to give talks about healthy eating.
Schools have also advised parents and carers with regard to the best ingredients for healthy packed lunches, and the directorate is about to refresh the advice for parents and carers.
And sport and activities are of course a very important part of the school curriculum, and all of our schools encourage maximum participation in physical education.
The island has a very proud tradition of healthy competitive sport, as the recent highly successful Primary Athletics Day (won by St Pauls) demonstrated.
Is it true that the government reduced import duty on sugary foods and drinks from 40% to 20% in order to simplify the tariffs?
Dr Risk also said that he had to insist of being given paper towels to dry his hands because the cotton towels used at the hospital were medically unacceptable – presumably, because of the risk of spreading infection. Could you comment, please?
SHG: Paper towels are generally utilised in all clinical areas. Sometimes stocks run out and occasionally towels need to be used, and these are changed and washed regularly in such instances.
He also said the island needed an intensive care unit, and much better capacity to deal with any major incident at the airport.
SHG: Plans are in hand for hospital redevelopment which will result in improved intensive care facilities.