Take responsibility for your health — Tufton

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, is imploring Jamaicans to start taking responsibility for their own health as a first line of defence against illness.

“Jamaicans have to come to terms – and we have to keep making that point –
that your personal health requires, in the first instance, you taking responsibility for taking care of yourself. It's a simple point, but it is a fundamental point," Tufton argued.

“The reality is, a lot of people focus more often than not, on what hospitals and what doctors can and cannot do, rather than focus on the fact that if they drink a lot of rum and consume a lot of sugar, then they will be susceptible to getting all the ailments that are associated with that; that if they don't spend half an hour a day to do a little exercise, or if they engage in smoking, then, ultimately, they are going to have issues with their personal health,” he added.

He said that as the standard-bearer for public health, he has a responsibility to demonstrate “that… no matter who we are… engaging in some limited physical activity as part of our own defence mechanism against sickness and unhealthy living” is not impossible.

Tufton, who was speaking at the reopening of the renovated Balaclava Health Centre in St Elizabeth last Thursday, said greater focus has to be placed on the preventative side of healthcare, as this is far cheaper for everyone, including taxpayers and Government, when compared to the curative aspect.

This involves making greater use of community health centres, which Tufton said are oftentimes bypassed by persons seeking non-emergency care, who, instead, opt to visit hospitals, resulting in lengthy wait times.

He said that the Government is working to restore the credibility of the community health facilities, noting that among the measures being contemplated is increasing the availability of services during a 24-hour cycle, in order to better facilitate community members.

Tufton is also encouraging health administrators to stage more outreach activities. “Instead of the people coming to us, we need to do more to go to the people in terms of the administration of community health,” he pointed out.

“Sometimes, if the public health nurse, the mental health nurse, the doctor don't go out to talk at the church, at the parent-teacher association (PTA) meeting, at the school and encourage people to be a part of the programme, they (citizens) don't come (to the health centres) unless they are falling down,” he argued.

“Ultimately, public health starts with primary community healthcare. It starts with the individual in the community understanding what they need to do to take care of themselves, and it starts with the facilities in the community that should lend critical support. I believe that as a country, if we were to do that, then, a lot of other things would fall into place,” Dr Tufton said.




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