Be careful of that eating habit!
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Parish manager of St Mary Health Services, Nadia Nunes, is adamant that although hospitals and health centres have a duty to provide the population with adequate medical services, individuals are ultimately responsible for their own physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being.
Moreover, Nunes, who has spent the last 15 years working as a health care professional in Clarendon and St Elizabeth, believes the most influential factor determining a person's healthiness is the food they consume.
Speaking from her office at Port Maria Hospital, the St Ann-born medical executive told Rural Xpress that if St Marians want to keep healthy, they must start tapping into their agricultural heritage.
She explained: "St Mary is pretty much a farming parish, so I think we should focus on locally grown produce, which means enjoying complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, but laying off things like red meat and rice, particularly white rice.
"St Mary has a lot of fish. We're not saying 'Eat fish every day,' but it is healthier than red meat, and more accessible. Why not go down to the seaside and ketch two fish (laughs)? And try to drink water and lay off the sodas because they contain a lot of sugar.
"For Health Month (April), we are focusing on the management of diabetes, and we're not sugar-coating anything. We really need to reduce our salt intake and start eating properly because we're eating more portions than we should and not exercising, which sets us up for heart attacks and diabetes.
"The most important thing you can do for yourself is to choose healthy foods. As individuals, we need to understand that we have a large role to play in terms of our health status, in that we choose what we eat and choose to have sedentary lifestyles."
Nunes acknowledges the parish desperately needs more doctors and renovations to some of its health-care facilities, but insists that if St Marians made greater use of their health centres, they would find vast improvements in the speed and quality of the service they received.
She said: "We want people to utilise their health-care services well because, when they do, they are better able to manage their health conditions. Visit your health centre regularly, not just when you feel ill, but to check up on your status. And only use hospitals for acute care.
"When you go to a hospital, but you're not an urgent or emergency case, you end up waiting for a long time, and that is why people complain. However, when you go to a health centre, they will see you in a shorter time because their doctors are there to give care to non-urgent cases.
"If you go to a health centre and are identified as an urgent or emergency case, you'll automatically be transferred to a hospital, and bumped up to the front of the line. You won't have that long wait because you've been properly assessed as an emergency, and will be treated as such."