April NCD Workshops at VSHC.

2013.05.28 Category: Non Communicable Diseases Project


April 17 - Sangita Devi Sharma is just not a nurse working in Suva’s Maternal/Child Health Unit.....She is a Breast Feeding MOM!  Sangita presented a hands on class for lactating MOMs checking technique and “Latch On”.  After advocating for babies to be exclusively breast fed for the first six months, she demonstrated how to prepare local fruits and vegetables in making a healthy (no salt, no sugar) complimentary baby food.  Community Health workers, new Moms, and even Grandmothers had all their questions answered. The Breast is Best as the earliest intervention to halt the tide of the NCD crisis!  Thanks Sanjita for the inspirational and practical lessons we learned.

April 18 - Jessie Pullar, an Australian Red Cross Dietician and a key figure in the MOHs Wellness campaign gave a vivid power point presentation to our Community Health workers and many high risk NCD clients.  No one will forget the slide showing the new Air Bus crashing with no survivors - the equivalent of 800 NCD deaths a year in Fiji.  We reviewed how many calories are in many classic Fijian dishes.  We were also shown how to swap for healthier, less caloric dense alternatives in place of desserts and fizzy drinks. The highlight of the event was the premiere of “Cash for Calories” - a model for healthy eating in Fiji. It is a learning guide teaching portion control. With audience help, we cooked three local dishes - pumpkin, ota, and long beans. Thank you Jessie for the fun day and all the practical knowledge regarding our nutritional health.

April 19 - Three presenters - Dr. Ismeli Tukana ( National NCD Advisor MOH), Dr. Robert Moulds (WHO consultant) and Dr. Temo ( Pacific Rim WHO Physician/Educator) educated the VSHC staff about the Global Burden of NCDs and their risk factors.  Dr. Moulds explained PEN: Package of Essential NCD Services. It is a tool to measure both the prevalence and severity of NCDs in the Pacific Rim. In our region six risk factors must be documented - age, sex, smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. From this data we can then calculate the 10 year absolute risk of an NCD patient having a heart attack or stroke.  We discussed the utility and pitfalls of this epidemiological tool.

Dr. Temo’s afternoon presentation was both insightful and timely.   What works to change behavior (lifestyle) is often not what you think. To get a message out today - cell phones, not TV or radio are the “Best Buys”. Also, if you are going to advertise in a newspaper - place your message on pages 1, 3, or 5! As we switch to the interventional stage of our NCD project this knowledge is invaluable.
We want to thank all our three physicians who took the time out of their busy schedules to come and teach the VSHC staff.

April 23 - Miles Owen, a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to Navua Health Centre gave a talk on how to initiate a weight loss program through a local competition. His expertise comes from being involved and monitoring Navua’s “Greatest Loser Campaign”. In Navua they were able to have local businesses and resorts donate money and resort packages as prizes. The number of participants and cash raised were both large sums. It sparked a tremendous audience interest and several ladies from Viseisei Village wanted to start tomorrow!
We know that proper dieting will lead to lower blood pressure, prevent the occurrence of diabetes, and improve general health. This is one technique that initiates change.
A big Vinaka Vakalevu Miles for teaching us how this can be achieved!

April 25 - The Koronivia Agriculture Research Unit under the direction of Sister Anna  and her supervisor, Mrs. Milkerea put on a demonstration on how to use local plants and vegetables to make drinks, jams, and snacks. They cooked with tamarind, cassava, hibiscus, and sweet potatoes. These were turned into tamarind tea and candy, cassava/hibiscus roll, and sweet potato jam. They also displayed healthy snacks being offered through their research at the Koronivia unit.
Participants learned how to make inexpensive and nutritious foods from the natural plants in their backyard.
Sister Anna’s other project - “Trash to Cash” - taking plastic rubbish like Bongo and Biscuit wrappers and crafting them into purses, bowls, and earrings was shown to us. This improves the local economies and cleans the environment.
We extend our thanks to Mrs. Milikerea, Sister Anna and the entire Koronivia team.