St Helena Health Services work to combat Chronic Diseases

  • Chronic Disease Management Conference highlights deteriorating health of the St Helena community
  • Greater Chronic Disease Management across Health Directorate
  • Combatting Chronic Diseases is a multi-sectional approach

In a Chronic Disease Management Conference held at Prince Andrew School on Thursday, 23 January 2020, senior SHG Officials including HE Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook, staff members from the Health Directorate and visiting colleagues from the Mauritian Health Ministry and World Health Organisation (WHO) discussed work underway to reduce Chronic or Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) on St Helena.

In HE’s opening address, Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook said: 

“Here at home it is recognised we have a rising tide of demand from Non-communicable Diseases and clearly much to do to turn it back. When it comes to Non-communicable Diseases we need to realise the health of our Island is deteriorating. For many, but not all, this is self-inflicted, which those once inflicted, then seek our doctors and nurses to cure the infliction. On an island where healthcare is currently funded by the central government budget and where secondary care in South Africa is effectively undertaken at a private medical facility, the burden is becoming intolerable.

“Collectively, we still have much to do to change public behaviours that encourage inactivity, tolerate the disastrous consequences of smoking and excessive drinking, and persuade people to adopt healthier diets.” (A full copy of Governor Rushbrook’s opening remarks is annexed to this release).

Chronic Disease Management Conference

During presentations from Heads of Sections within the Health Directorate – Community Nurses, Laboratory, Environmental Health, The Hospital, Dental, and Mental Health Services – including from the Education and Children & Adults Social Care Directorates, attendees learnt about the role each section and Directorate has in working towards the fight to decrease NCDs on St Helena. 

Despite some positive shifts in community health-related actions including noticeable efforts at smoking cessation, taking regular physical activity and reducing consumption of unhealthy food and drinks and increasing healthier ones, there is still a high prevalence of NCDs on St Helena with 20% of the population having Diabetes, 30% with Hypertension, 70% are Overweight and 40% has Kidney Disease. Work towards combatting these health problems which lead to common diseases such as Cancers and Strokes include:

  • The Saints Together Campaign which has focused on encouraging more physical activity, making it easier for people to quit smoking, and promoting healthier food and drink options
  • Increased monitoring of patients with NCDs including through increasing nurse-led clinics and Chronic Disease Management Clinics
  • Staff training and development
  • Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy for four weeks as part of the Smoking Cessation programme
  • Tobacco legislation in progress
  • In the Education Directorate, schools promote healthy eating and exercise in all key stages, have health focus days, health clubs and BMI screening annually
  • In Social Care there is a healthier menu, regular health check days and access to health provision for prevention of NCDs in vulnerable people.

Work is ongoing to develop expert patient groups, improving the structure of Chronic Disease Management Clinics and exploring the possibility of prescribing physical activity as part of a patient’s treatment plan.

There is greater Chronic Disease Management across the Health Directorate which focuses on evidence-based measures. However Health colleagues recognise that combatting these diseases is not just an issue for the Health Directorate, it is a multi-sectional approach.

The visiting delegation from Mauritius and WHO shared their management plan on preventing NCDS which included: Community participation involvement, NCD Screening Programme, Primary health care centres, Region outreach programmes at worksites and in schools, National service framework for

Diabetes, Mobile clinic including screening of NCDS, School health programme for secondary schools, Physical activity programme, Health education campaigns, Empowerment for leaders, Community awareness programme and Regulation on sale of unhealthy food in schools and prevention of tobacco use.

Director of Health, Ted Rayment, said:

“NCD management is an ongoing process and for this reason St Helena is eager to learn from our Mauritian and WHO colleagues approaches to change public behaviours to achieve health improvements. Communication and collaboration among stakeholders is essential in NCD management.”

Full Copy of Governor Rushbrook’s Opening Address

#StHelena #ChronicDiseaseManagement #AltogetherHealthier


27 January 2020

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470