Sat | May 27, 2017

Hypertension levels soar in west Kingston

Published:Thursday | August 25, 2016 | 8:00 AMJason Cross
Diabetes Association of Jamaica's medical technician Ulander Titus (right) administers a blood-pressure test Silesha Brown of the Tivoli Gardens community last Friday.

Just a few hours into last Friday's commencement of the second annual west Kingston health fair, put on by the West Kingston Power Partners, at the Tivoli Gardens High School, the Diabetes Association of Jamaica was able to detect that many west Kingston residents were suffering from extremely high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Of the 150 persons screened for high blood pressure by the Diabetes Association, 27 per cent were out of control. For high cholesterol, 54 per cent had serious conditions. Vision screening detected that 71 per cent had various eye problems.

"For the screens that we have done, blood pressure and high cholesterol have been extremely out of control. (They have) no dietary guidelines on how to manage the condition, and no medication is the normal cry. A number of persons are out of medication. They don't understand the gravity of their health condition - that the blood cholesterol and the high blood pressure will affect their hearts, kidneys, and will affect their eyes," executive chairperson of the Diabetes Association of Jamaica Lurlene Less said.

She believes that programmes should be set up to coordinate with health fairs so that patients can have access to medication on the spot.

"As you fine-tune the programmes, you come full circle. You already have the doctors available. Probably having the medication available would solve some of the problems. Some persons will have difficulties finding the nearest drug store to get the medication for free through the National Health Fund. Having it (the medication) accessible would be a good addition to the event," she continued.

Rhoda Whyte, Denham Town resident, expressed thanks to the organisers for the health fair.

"Mi glad fi know seh a whole heap a people really want the help. Mi really glad fi see whole heap a people come een fi help. We thank them," she said as she explained that she took her daughter to get her medical done for high school in September.

Tivoli resident Jacqueline Brown, who took her children and grandchildren to the fair, said: "It means a lot because more time you go to the health centre, you don't get assist. You just have to wait until certain time. Like this now, you get more access and more privilege fi get look after. Mi benefit a lot."

President and CEO of Jamaica Energy Partners Wayne McKenzie told The Gleaner that the efforts were to ensure the community's sustainability.

"We believe in sustainability. We don't believe that we should come into the community to do a one-off thing and then come back out. We embrace our community for the tenure that we are going to be here. We wanted it to coincide as well with back to school."

The health fair was held under the theme 'Your Health, Our Mission'.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com