There is no doubt that the residents of St. Joseph have heard and are heeding the “echo” of the St. Joseph Parish Independence Committee as they continue to promote their project for 2013 titled E.C.H.O.: Educating Communities on Healthier Options.
On Sunday July 7 a large crowd gathered at the Grantley Adams Memorial School long before the scheduled 4:30 p.m. start of a panel discussion hosted by the committee.
This event, organised by the committee under the sub theme, “Eliminating Chronic Health Obstacles: Security for the Future” was held under the patronage of renowned cardiologist Dr. Raymond Massay, also a resident of the parish and feature speaker for the evening.
The discussion was also facilitated by four additional presenters each of whom brought a unique perspective to the topic of chronic non-communicable diseases.
Beginning with Adventist Pastor Ricardo Selman, the audience was educated on the issue of mental health from a religious perspective. Next on the programme was Esther Selman, a qualified vegetarian nutritionist. She spoke to the issue of diet and exercise through the use of a case study that demonstrated how a young female was able to take charge of her overweight condition by reorganising her diet along with a combination of exercise, a very important ingredient to a healthy existence.
In keeping with the theme of providing healthier options to its residents, the committee also had on the panel, herbal educator Annette Maynard- Watson. Maynard-Watson spoke to and demonstrated how residents could utilise the breadfruit leaf to reduce various ailments, including but not limited to, high blood pressure. Residents were also encouraged to make maximum use of this resource that grows in abundance in the parish.
The next speaker, Winfred Austin-Greaves addressed the audience from yet another unique approach as he informed residents about the link between climate change and the rising incidence of CNCDs. He noted that the high increase in dengue fever had been linked to this development.
Other issues such as the declining availability of water resources, the impact on food supplies and by extension increase in chronic diseases were also dealt with by Austin-Greaves.
Massay, as the main speaker, evoked much discussion from the audience after his presentation. Hypertension, stroke and heart disease were among the main diseases focussed on by the doctor. While Massay did not discredit the use of non-traditional intervention to control CNCDs, he said that as a scientist he believes that all remedies should be backed by scientific research. He thus urged residents to do their own investigations of the herbal remedies being advocated.
Massay was passionate about the need for patients suffering from heart disease to have appropriate medical facilities available to fast track the treatment of their conditions. In echoing the advice of one of the earlier presenters, Massay reiterated the importance of a healthy diet and exercise as two interventions that can reduce the incidences of CNCDs.
Following the presentations by each panellist, residents had the opportunity to pose questions and get them answered. At the end of the discussions and presentations a special treat prepared by members of the committee was in store for all.
To further promote the use of breadfruit as a healthy option, samples of a variety of dishes and beverages with breadfruit as the main ingredient awaited the guests. Breadfruit oatmeal cookies with fruit, breadfruit almond cookies, breadfruit burgers, breadfruit muffins and breadfruit punch were some of the tasty items available for sampling.
Based on the initial feedback from some of those present, residents are eager and excited about the project. Many of them are already asking when a similar event will be held even though the presentations lasted for over four hours.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening Caroline Woodroffe-Holder said she was overwhelmed by the attendance and urged residents to continue supporting the efforts of the committee headed chairperson Edwin Greene. Rico Bradshaw, part of the team of parish ambassadors for St. Joseph gave the vote of thanks.