St Helena community makes positive shifts in taking care of their health

  • 2019 Island Health Survey data shows positive shifts in community health-related actions compared to 2018
  • Noticeable efforts at smoking cessation, taking regular physical activity and reducing consumption of unhealthy food and drinks and increasing healthier ones 
  • SHG Directorates and organisations and businesses across the community have been part of making this start to happen

The St Helena Health Directorate has released the results of their 2019 Island Health Survey. The data indicates that between April 2018 and May 2019 the community on St Helena undertook to make some positive shifts in their health-related actions and achieved some success in reducing the risk factors for the most prevalent chronic conditions.

Small adjustments which people themselves have taken to improve their health include efforts at smoking cessation, taking some more regular physical activity, and starting to make specific shifts to reduce consumption of unhealthy food or drinks and increase consumption of healthier ones.

SHG directorates and organisations and businesses across the Island have played an important role in making these changes start to happen.

Key headlines over the year between April 2018 and May 2019:

  • The number of people smoking decreased
  • The number of people wanting to quit smoking/trying to quit increased markedly
  • The frequency and amount of consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks declined markedly
  • Daily frequency of water consumption increased, and the number of people drinking the lowest amount decreased
  • The number of people drinking fruit juice more frequently declined substantially
  • Frequency and amount of people adding ‘extra’ sugar to drinks or food decreased
  • The number of people eating ‘Energy-dense Nutrition-poor’ snack food most frequently (confectionery/chips) decreased
  • The number of people considering they eat healthily the ‘majority of the time’ increased notably
  • The number of people who never walk decreased markedly; and the number of people who walk more than one hour weekly increased very substantially
  • The number of young people doing some ‘other moderate activity’ weekly increased
  • A substantial number of people shifted from previously categorising their health as ‘fair’ to ‘good’
  • Fewer people felt they had ‘very little’ control over their health, and more people felt they had some control over their health

Chairman of the Public Health Committee, Councillor Derek Thomas, said:

 “The 2019 Island Health Survey forms part of the St Helena Health Promotion Strategic Framework. The focus for 2018-19 has been looking at opportunities to make healthier options easier and less healthy options less appealing or accessible.

 “The 2019 results show a positive move in the right direction and over time we will expect this to reflect both in the levels of chronic disease on-Island and also the quality of life of people who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions.

 “This is just the start. To make a difference to the Island’s health we need to continue this approach and it needs the whole community to continue to play their part – at home, at work and in what their organisation does.”

The majority of areas showing the start of positive shifts require continued and further measures of work. For example, to ensure people quitting smoking can stay quit, further improving the supply of alternative non-sugar drinks and increasing water consumption to replace sugary drinks and fruit juice, and broadening reach so that sections of the community that are slower to adopt changes can benefit.

Further priorities to be addressed will be fruit and vegetable consumption allowing the community to access affordable fresh produce.

Phase 2 work of the Health Promotion Strategic Framework (HPSF) is ongoing throughout 2019 and a new HPSF will commence in early 2020 and will be most effective with the continued support and contributions from people from all parts of the Island.

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30 August 2019

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470