…as Nurses’ Week is observed
As part of the continued activities of Nurses’ Week leading up to the observance of International Nurses’ Day tomorrow, the Guyana Nurses Association (GNA) yesterday orchestrated a mini-exhibition outside of the Fogarty’s shopping centre on Water Street. International Nurses’ Day will be held under the theme ‘Closing the Gap: Increasing Access and Equity’.
The GNA exhibition was not only characterised by interactive sessions between health professionals and passersby which saw them learning about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but passersby were also afforded various medical tests and examinations. Among the services that were delivered were blood pressure checks, vaccination and diabetic foot care. In addition, handouts were passed out, intended to sensitise interested persons on the issue of diabetes, Body Mass Index (BMI) interpretation and carbohydrate counting.
The Ministry of Health has been promoting weight control and has been accelerating its campaign for every Guyanese to know their BMI. The campaign, known as ‘What am I without my BMI’, seeks to ensure that all Guyanese are aware of their body weight and that they try to control it to maintain a normal BMI of between 18 and 25.
As such, persons are being advised that their BMI can be calculated by the formula: either as (weight in kg/height in cm)/height in cm or [(Weight in lbs/height in inches)/height in inches] x 703.
For example if your weight is 140 lbs and your height is 68 inches. Your BMI is, therefore [(140/68)/68] x 703 = (2.06/68) x 703 = 0.03 x 703 = 21.3.
According to Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, the response of the Guyanese people to the campaign has been laudable, as there has been an increase in the number of persons getting involved in physical activity. However, the Ministry will continue to encourage others to join the revolution which is emerging in this regard, Minister Ramsammy noted.
“We are pleased that many other institutions and even businesses have joined us in promoting the message about body weight and control, and yesterday it was the GNA that was bolstering the BMI campaign.”
However, Dr. Ramsammy asserted that neither proper nutrition nor diet by itself or physical activity alone will work to maintain the recommended body weight and BMI. For persons to maintain body weight within the recommended BMI, a number of conditions must be met including: proper diet, balanced with an awareness of portion and caloric content; regular and sustained physical activity such as jogging, walking, playing sports, swimming and dancing – but no smoking and misuse of alcohol.
In addition to highlighting the importance BMI monitoring, the GNA team also disseminated information about sickle cell, a feature which was presented by Nurse Grace Bond.
According to Nurse Bond, a number of sensitisation measures have been streamlined in recognition of the fact that sickle cell-related disorders are rarely addressed at an early stage within the local health sector. In fact, she noted that often is the case that persons are only enlightened about the disease when they suffer some related complication.
However, there are just a few local nurses (Bond included) who have been fully trained to recognise and address sickle cell-related disorders, Bond revealed, even as she emphasised the growing urgency to have nurses from the training level exposed to sickle cell edification.
“We have plans to target nurses through our continuing education programme, but we have also done some work at the School of Nursing…I have already had talks with the third-year students, but we are hoping to talk with all of the students, even those who have passed through the School of Nursing. We are also hoping to increase awareness by talking to the general public,” Bond noted.
“We have to let the public know about sickle cell so that they can know how to care for themselves, because it is not just about getting treatment in hospital. Treatment in the hospital is when you go into crisis and suffer from unbearable pain.
But if they can be taught to minimise or prevent a crisis, then they will not be going to the hospital as frequently.”
Bond stressed that it is even more important for screening of infants to be introduced sooner rather than later in local public health facilities.
She pointed out that through screening, health workers will be able to identify newborns that are more likely to develop the sickle cell trait. She explained that screening could start even before a child is conceived, whereby potential parents can be screened to determine whether they have the sickle cell trait, and the possibility of them conceiving a child with full-blown sickle cell.
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