Portlanders urged to make better lifestyle choices
Dozens of Portland residents descended on the Portland High School, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution, where a 50-member medical team drawn from the United States (US), Canada, and the Caribbean recently provided free health services over a two-day period.
Dubbed 'Heart to Heart Mission of Mercy', the medical team has been making frequent visits to Jamaica, especially on the west end of the island. However, according to Elso Gordon, nurse and team leader, the decision to select Portland this time around came by way of a request.
"The need is great in this parish," commented Nurse Gordon.
"It is rather challenging for most residents, who, having visited the doctor or hospital, are unable to pay for the medication that they require. Our mission is to ensure that we treat as many people as possible and to also provide them with whatever medicine and supplies that we have on hand. A lot of time and care was spent by team members to purchase wheelchairs and walkers, along with a variety of medical supplies, to ensure that the needs are met," she added.
According to Gordon, team members voluntarily took the time off from work for a one-week period, while absorbing all the expenses just to be in Jamaica, especially beautiful Portland, which has captivated them.
Team doctor, Arnoux Blanchard, spoke about the need for public education, as there are clear indications that lifestyle changes have to be made by Jamaicans, who now need to make the adjustments to preserve and improve their health status.
"It has to do with their eating habits, "said Dr Blanchard.
"The cases that we have uncovered comprised mainly hypertension and diabetes. What we try to do is to educate them about the need to avoid certain types of food, or to at least consume them in small proportion. The sodium, sugar, and use of cooking oil in large proportions will seriously derail one's health. What we see here is by no means different from other places that we have visited. However, what we have discovered is that people are unable to pay for or access medication," he added.
The services provided at the school over the two days also included dental care, heart test, gynaecology, dermatology, and blood tests.
Patients who were in need of medication received up to three months supply. The team also assisted people in need of wheelchairs, walkers and pampers.