In May 2018, The St Helena Health Directorate launched their Strategic Framework for Health Promotion on St Helena 2018-19 (HPSF). The overall aim of this framework is to reduce overweight/obesity and smoking in the Island community.
Worldwide evidence shows that losing weight and stopping smoking are the two most important ways people can reduce their risk of the diseases that are responsible for a large burden of illness, disability, and early death on the Island. These include: Type Two Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and Cancer.
Among Saints, one in five people are Diabetic and more than half of adults have high blood pressure (early sign of heart and circulation disease). Almost seven in ten people are overweight or obese, including 42% of schoolchildren, while 36% of men and 28% of women aged 20-65 smoke. This is much higher among Saints 20-29 years old (50% of men and 42% of women).
The HPSF was developed by working with a wide range of local people and organisations to identify the most important things that will help people make the lifestyle changes that will reduce their risk and improve their health, and the things that currently make these kind of changes difficult or unattractive.
Health Promotion & Social Marketing Lead, Dr Angie Jackson-Morris, said:
“The strategies are designed to create a community environment where healthy choices are easier, to encourage community involvement in health, and to strengthen law and policy to support healthy behaviours and deter those that are harmful. These will be supported by a campaign, based on community members’ own thoughts on how to encourage and support Saints to make healthy changes and choices in their own way and on their own terms.”
Alongside these actions in the wider community, there will be work to strengthen the health services that provide advice, information, and support to help people develop the skills they need to successfully maintain healthy behaviours.
What the Health Directorate aims to achieve by the end of 2019:
- To reduce consumption of high sugar drinks, and high fat, high salt, high sugar snack foods
- To increase the ‘swapping’ of healthier food and drink options to replace the less healthy ones
- To increase physical activity participation across the population
- To increase the number of smokers trying to quit
How will the St Helena Health Directorate do this?
Action on Diet, Weight, Activity and Smoking:
- Community Campaign to promote easy, realistic choices and changes
- Workforce Wellbeing Programme
- Strengthen Community Centre role in promoting health
Action on Diet & Weight:
- ‘Merchants Partnership for Health’
- ‘Hospitality Venues Partnership for Health’
- Health Directorate Healthy Food Model and adapt for other Institutions
Action on Physical Activity:
- Develop Community Physical Activity skill base
- Develop ‘easy-to-do’ popular community activity option
- Children’s Play Area Development
Action on Smoking:
- Policy and law changes to make non-smoking the community ‘norm’
- A ‘Quit Kit’ advice resource for people trying to quit
- Make SHG Smoke-Free – indoor, outdoor and smoke-free working time