NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (November 09, 2016) — The following is an address delivered by Hon. Mark Brantley, Deputy Premier of Nevis and Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) at the 5th annual Gala Dinner and Dance hosted by the Nevis Renal Society. The event was held at the Four Seasons Resort on November 05, 2016, with the theme “Monitoring your kidneys for better health”.
The Ministry of Health is aware of the impact of non-communicable diseases on our population. Our disease burden reflects that our leading causes of death are attributable to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. These diseases are also the leading causes of hospitalization.
We are also aware, that conditions such as obesity are risk factors for kidney disease, and as such our investment in health services focuses heavily on health promotion and disease prevention, as part of our primary healthcare approach.
As I reflect on the theme for this evening “monitoring your kidneys for better health”, with your permission, I define it to mean, taking a proactive role in not just keeping your kidneys healthy but your body overall, by taking advantage of primary health promotion strategies such as health education and secondary health promotion activities, including health screening exercises that will keep our kidneys healthy by preventing, as well as delaying, the risk factors that eventually lead to kidney disease.
Our efforts in the area of primary health promotion at the Ministry of Health, include a host of health education activities which target various persons in our population. Our school health programme has advanced tremendously over the past three years and has aggressively addressed the issue of healthy eating through more healthy meal preparation at schools, as well as equipping children and their parents with education, as well as practical skills in the preparation of healthy snacks.
The recently launched “My Healthy Plate” project in September 2016 at primary schools, also has a similar objective and will not only provide education on healthy eating but also monitor students as they progress through grades 3-6, by measuring their Body Mass Index (BMX) to determine changes in body fat.
Community education sessions through various civil society groups and faith based organizations, are a routine component of our health education programme. With the aid of our school meals chef, we do not only speak about healthy eating but also demonstrate this practice on occasions, such as the annual Agricultural Food Fair and small health fairs. Workplace programmes are also implemented through our Community Nursing and Health Promotion Units, with large employers, and uniformed bodies such as the police and fire services being a part of our target population.
These health education sessions are normally part of wider outreach health promotion programmes which include secondary prevention activities, such as screening for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol among other conditions. In 2016 alone, we recorded a 33 percent increase in the number of sessions conducted compared to 2015.
Earlier this year, we were pleased to partner with you, the Renal Society, in an activity for World Kidney Day which involved screening for diabetes and hypertension. We value this partnership which has been in place for several years, not only in the area of prevention but also in the provision of treatment and care for persons requiring peritoneal and haemodialysis.
In addition to our outreach activities, we also host monthly diabetic and hypertension clinics at all six health centres that provide self-management skills for our registered clients with non-communicable diseases. These clinics are vital as they provide tertiary prevention services that increase quality of life of our clients, thus reducing severe consequences such as amputations and renal failure.
The Ministry of Health is committed to extending the services it provides as it relates to kidney disease prevention and control. As such, we will soon launch a three-year project in partnership with the government of China (Taiwan), which will involve a comprehensive strategy in this regard.
This will include strengthening prevention programmes by training health educators and other public health personnel. It will also include training of doctors and nurses in the care and treatment of kidney disease.
The final component, will scale up the capacity of health facilities by providing additional machines and in the case of Nevis, a proper water treatment plant that will be part of the soon to be constructed Dialysis Unit at the Alexandra Hospital. Through this multi-pronged approach, we will be able to expand the quality health services that we provide to the people of Nevis and the wider Federation.
The Ministry is well aware that the Renal Society has championed the provision of dialysis services to the Nevisian public in Nevis. The Government has been committed to the care of members of our population who require dialysis both peritoneal and haemodialysis, by providing financial support for them to be dialyzed in St. Kitts at the unit there. We would hope to offer that service in the near future right here at the refurbished Alexandra Hospital.
By way of update, the bids for the hospital project have been finalized and contractors have been selected. The St. Kitts-Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) has kindly provided funding for the project. The steel frames for the buildings have already been ordered and we fully expect to break ground shortly on the long awaited expansion of the Alexandra Hospital.
As I close, I congratulate you once again for the work you have done and have been doing over the past years and I underscore the importance of partnerships in health, as we aim to increase access to health services for all in the population.
I wish the Renal Society continued success in its service to the people of Nevis.
Thank you and God bless you.