The Public Health Committee (PHC) has this week discussed the findings and supported the recommendations in a report from Health Director, Dr Akeem Ali, regarding the recent Study Tour to Mauritius to learn about their successful approach to tackling chronic diseases.
A team from St Helena visited Mauritius in January 2019. The delegation represented from across SHG were able to explore options about working with Mauritius from a corporate, political and health sector perspective. It was good that the team included frontline staff who were able to experience first-hand the approaches used by the Mauritius health practitioners.
Dr Akeem said:
Chronic diseases, particularly diabetes and hypertension, are silent killers and unfortunately very common on St Helena. These diseases give us concern because they lead to complications such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness, cataracts, kidney failure, and cancers to mention a few.
The Health Directorate's strategic plan tackles these diseases and is aimed at effective response to this challenge. We want to reduce the number of new cases because even with genetic predisposition, it is possible to prevent some of these diseases or their complications. We also want to ensure that current patients get the best care possible and avoid complications.
It is a long term job of dealing with the risk factors leading to the diseases such as smoking, obesity, and harmful alcohol use, and lack of physical activity as well as providing effective long term medical treatment and advice.
Working with WHO to explore long term approaches to tackling the chronic disease problem on St Helena, the Republic of Mauritius was identified as a close sociocultural neighbour to St Helena with similar experience that has done a lot of progressive and successful work to tackle the burden of chronic diseases.
We learnt a lot from the successful approach being taken in Mauritius during our visit. The Minister of Health and senior officials were very welcoming and indicated their readiness to support St Helena in the drive to tackle chronic diseases as a positive example of South-South cooperation.
Proposed options for exploration presented to and accepted by the PHC were:
Medical Specialist Exchange Programme � four specialists � Cardiology (heart), Ophthalmology (eye), ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) and Nephrology (Kidney) -from the Mauritius Health Service visits the Island annually. Frequency of visits can be increased based on clinical needs and joint assessment between the local and visiting teams
Nurse Training Programme � up to two nurses from St Helena are able to subscribe to the training programme offered by the Mauritius Institute of Health (MIH) on an annual basis and a bespoke on-the-job training programme for foot care and diabetes care is offered on St Helena and delivered by MIH educators
Joint Research Programme on Chronic (Non-communicable) Diseases � The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the MIH conduct a Non-Communicable Disease survey on St Helena using methodology in place in Mauritius
Bilateral South-South Assistance Programme � SHG and the Mauritius Government collaborate in health development particularly in angiography (taking images of the heart) and haemodialysis (purifying the blood of a person whose kidneys are not working normally) where Mauritius can help the Island acquire the technology and put in place the necessary infrastructure with expert assistance and equipment
Overseas Medical Referral Programme � SHG can work with the Mauritius Ministry of Health & Quality of Life to refer patients to Mauritius for specialist care, particularly for kidney disease, cancers and heart disease. This has the potential to dramatically reduce current costs for overseas care and make funding available for further development of specialist care on St Helena
Now that the five proposed themes for collaboration with the Government of Mauritius has been supported by the PHC, an action plan will be developed for implementation � this will again be shared with PHC and quarterly updates provided to them on progress. A further operational review will be undertaken with the SHG Core Leadership Group and relevant colleagues.
Notes to Editors:
The Study tour to Mauritius took place between 7 and 19 January 2019 and was supported by funds from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The St Helena delegation comprised Chief Secretary Susan O'Bey, Director of Health Dr Akeem Ali, Assistant Director of Health Helen Lawrence, PHC Chairman Councillor Derek Thomas, Nurse Lead for Chronic Disease Service Jacqueline Henry and Nurse Lead for Community Services & Chronic Disease Management Nicola Anderson.
The objectives of the tour were to:
Establish ongoing relationship and potentially a memorandum of understanding with the Mauritius Ministry of Health & Quality of Life with particular emphasis on sharing expertise and knowledge on healthcare system delivery for island populations
Understudy the successful approach to Chronic (Non-Communicable) Disease Management so that we can adapt such learning on St Helena
Explore opportunities for staff exchange, training, and sabbatical options for health specialists from Mauritius to support St Helena in healthcare delivery
Explore ongoing and further technical cooperation and support relationship with WHO in Africa for healthcare and service development on St Helena
Source: St Helena Government