EDITORIAL: Empowering our people to make healthy choices


WE APPLAUD THE FACT that more Barbadians seem to be taking control of their health and not leaving anything to chance. They are being proactive and taking the necessary steps to make the right decisions when it comes to safeguarding and protecting their well-being.

Simply put, our health is just too important a matter to be played around with.

This is Breast Cancer Month and we heard from pioneer of the Breast Screening Programme, Dr Shirley Jhagroo, that more women are coming forward to be tested and screened, even without exhibiting any of the signs, symptoms or discomfort usually associated with the disease.

We have come a long way from the days when women with breast cancer, or any other illness would hide their condition from the public. Today, they are now coming forward and speaking up, recognising that their story can touch another and possibly save a life.

Women who are battling this disease share their experiences and their journey with others, while encouraging them to follow suit, and forget their fear and get tested.

Many have heeded the advice and are so concerned about their health that more women, especially those under 40, have been getting tested. The importance of early testing cannot be stressed enough as this could make the difference between life and death. Early testing can save lives.

We are equally happy that more Barbadians are coming forward to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. This past week the Barbados Family Planning Association reported that by the end of the year, almost 3 000 STI tests will be completed. Of these, it is believed that 1 000 will be for HIV/AIDS. There is a growing demand for screenings and the association is expected to carry out 2 997 STI tests this year, 47 per cent more than last year.

Gone are the days when people who believed they were at risk of contracting infections like gonorrhoea or syphilis would be too embarrassed to seek the help they needed. We have seen this in past years with HIV/AIDS sufferers when they would be shunned into the background and scorned and shamed.

Thankfully with education and awareness messages, those who believe they are infected, or are at risk in some way, are coming forward and seeking help.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for these messages to continue to be be pushed in the public domain. We need to empower our people with the information that will help them to make better choices in life.

Barbados has a tradition of longevity given the number of centenarians we are producing. It is something of which we are all proud. It is also a known fact too, that this country has a large population of over 65-year-olds, and therefore the health of this nation cannot be emphasised enough.

We need to make sure that our people have access to all the necessary information to help them make better choices. They also need access to the best health care that can be provided. It is important if we want to boast of having a healthy nation.


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