Nevis Island To Embark On Health Survey

Charlestown, Nevis, West Indies
March 17, 2008

The Nevis Health Promotion Unit (HPU) has been enhanced to provide greater health promotion services to the people of Nevis.
According to Health Educator Ms. Shirley Wilkes who also heads the department, the unit had planned to embark on the formation of a comprehensive health data bank and to provide reading materials for the public and health professionals.  They would be used as a vehicle for the development and enhancement of disease prevention and promotion practices on Nevis.
Ms. Wilkes made the announcement during a recent interview with the Department of Information.  According to Ms. Wikes, the collection of data would be done in the form of a three STEPS survey where key information would be gathered about behavorial and biological risk across the population.  Approximately 2200 adult males and females aged 25 to 63 years would be invited to participate in the survey.

She further added that the STEPS survey would be done in conjunction with the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), PAN American Health Organisation (PAHO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to Ms, Wilkes, the programme was organised by the Health Promotion Unit (HPU) which started in 2007 and is slated to continue in April of 2008.  She further indicated that the surveys would be conducted by trained persons.  There are two Health Educators and two Health Statisticians on the Unit’s staff who would be responsible for the production of the health data and statistics to assist persons to make informed choices about their health.
“The objectives and goals for the survey are to develop the standardised tools to enable comparisons over time and across countries.   We also want to prevent chronic disease epidemics before they occur to help health services plan and determined public health priorities to predict future case loads of chronic diseases and to monitor and evaluate population wide interventions,” she said. 
Ms. Wilkes mentioned that the Health Promotion Unit would also embark upon a programme of workplace health for the future.
“We have already done the first step which is getting in contact with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce to encourage workplaces to be involved to devote at least an half hour per month of every three months, to uplift persons in the community in terms of helping them to understand what is happening with them in terms of health.  A healthy business means a healthy country and it means more money coming into the business as well as in our country,” she said.
The survey is set to be completed over a period of six to eight months.  The health promotion Officers implored the general public to coordinate with the officers as they conducted the survey.  She explained it was the Unit’s aim to raise public awareness of the STEPS programme and keep the public knowledgeable of health issues and to promote changes in the physical and social environment.
Meantime, Health Educator Ms. Andy Neil said the tools which would used to collect data and measure chronic disease risk factors is called STEPS of risk factors assessment and that household surveys would start with the first step that would involve the collection of basic information about the use of alcohol, diet, physical activity and history cases of diseases.
The second step would include monitoring a participant’s weight and height measurements and the final step would consist of participants who would be selected randomly for their blood samples.
Random selection would be made based on available household list frames where the selected household would be made from each enumeration district (ED).  A starting point would be determined randomly and thereafter every ninth household, depending on the number of households within the ED.  The randomised sampling would be used to select one individual from each household to be interviewed.
According to statistics from the government’s Statistical Department, the burden caused by chronic diseases was on the increase and had significant social, economical and health consequences.  Chronic and non communicable diseases ranked among the main causes of morbidity and mortality on St Kitts and Nevis.  The situation is serous considering that at least 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and diabetes are preventable.

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