The Public Health Committee met in open and closed sessions on Wednesday, 22 February 2018, to discuss a number of items.
After an introduction and confirmation of the minutes from the previous meeting, the Chair invited the Director of Health to update the committee on progress on the Directorate's plans.
The Director outlined plans to enhance services for managing chronic diseases on-Island. Plans are underway to ensure that people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, are booked into clinics where they can have a full review of their health status to avoid a position where people are only seen when complications have arisen from their illnesses.
An update on overseas referrals was presented to the committee. To date, 86 patients have been referred overseas and about Pound 1.6m has been spent against the original budget of Pound 1.2m. Additional funding has been agreed to cover this overspend.
The Director informed the committee that there are plans underway to ensure that joint replacement surgeries can start on the Island soon. Equipment and joint implants have been ordered and dates for the first set of surgeries will be announced as soon as these are on the Island and have been tested.
All other priority areas in the Strategic Plan were highlighted and short updates provided. Progress is good in all areas. The key challenge remains around recruitment of specialist staff. The committee had no further questions and thanked the Director and his team for all their efforts and successes so far.
The Director then outlined the key areas of work around health promotion and invited Dr Angela Jackson-Morris to update the committee about works in this regard. The approach to health promotion, now and in the future, will be based on research on how the community can engage in the journey to improve health. The critical approach is to make healthier choices the easier choices by making these fun and possible. In that regard, there will be work to ensure that local policies support healthier behaviours, ensure that access to healthier food options is easier and more affordable, and to work with individuals and families to make health happen where they live, work and play.
Priority areas of work are focussing on the risks of excess body weight and smoking by running programmes on workplace health, working with retailers/importers/wholesalers to stock healthier food options, training local champions to encourage higher participation in physical activity and to combat smoking through pricing structure and offering support for those who want to quit. The committee committed to supporting the Strategic Framework for health promotion and will facilitate an informational session with Elected Members early in the new financial year.
The closing session focused on the debate about how to support people over 65 who may be having problems paying for fees and charges, particularly laboratory tests. Various options were debated and the committee resolved that, because of the financial impact of any proposal, this item will be discussed with Elected Members to understand the extent and size of the problem, and how it can be addressed.
Source: St Helena Government