Two new programmes designed to enhance health promotion in Jamaica through education and screening are slated for rollout this year.
The initiatives, to be spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, were announced by portfolio minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, while addressing the recent 35th Commonwealth Health Ministers meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tufton explained that the engagements were being done as part of Jamaica’s effort to utilize the primary-healthcare system to achieve universal health coverage. This is in keeping with Goal 3.8 of the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The first programme, the ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign, will utilise mobile outreach to link with persons in their communities and workplaces to provide education, redirect them to primary-care centers, and provide essential screening for priority diseases where they are.
Tufton explained that the campaign will target “hard-to-reach” populations, including men and young people.
The other initiative is a ‘Life Stage Approach to Health Promotion and Prevention’ in primary-care centers.
Through this engagement, persons visiting these facilities will be exposed to health topics and screening that are relevant to their life stage and a public awareness campaign on the health needs for each phase.
Tufton pointed out that the campaign will provide an opportunity for the ministry to capitalise on the captive audience that is generally present in health centers, during the antenatal period and the early-childhood years.
“It is important that we maintain this link with the population, that they come to expect and anticipate services at the next life stages,” he reasoned.
The minister added that this will enable early education on issues that cross all life stages, noting that these would normally worsen without early intervention. Tufton further explained that the campaign provides an opportunity for early discussion of and screening for mental health issues that affect the country’s young people and elderly citizens, in a setting that neither intimidates nor stigmatises this problem.