This past week I was involved with the coordination and follow through of community health fairs on the island. These health fairs are vital for the public in that they enable us to reach out to those living on the island and perform various health screenings for people who do not understand the importance of and/or do not have the funds to get these health screenings on their own.
Blood glucose tests and blood pressure readings are administered at the health fairs. Diabetes and high blood pressure are prevalent on the island. I was able to perform over 200 blood sugar tests and blood pressure readings last week. In addition to testing I was also able to inform people who came to the fairs on the importance of monitoring their blood pressure and ways in which they can manage high blood pressure. Likewise, I was able to educate those with high blood sugar about diabetes and ways to keep their blood sugar level in control. If either test turned out to be extremely high I referred them to Clinica Esperanza where I am currently working so they can be more thoroughly examined and when appropriate receive further care or medication. At Clinica Experanza, no one is turned down due to their inability to pay so if they can get transportation (another barrier) they will be seen by a doctor at the clinic.
Health screenings are an important component of public health. By planning and implementing these health fairs I am able to reach a number of communities and interact with people that are far from the clinic and might not otherwise seek out these sorts of tests or even know the significance of such tests.
Many of the people I spoke with did not understand what diabetes is much less how to control it. This is a real problem on the island because much of the diet consists of fruits and non-complex carbohydrate (white flour) products which are known to contribute to spikes in blood sugar levels.
I am organizing and will conduct three more health fairs this week and have also put together a program on nutrition. I will be conducting this class at the clinic to inform people on the importance of making health conscious food choices. For example, soda (soft drink) consumption is huge here so hopefully through this class I can help people understand how what they put in their body relates to their health.