Pugazhendh said there needs to be an exercise to see why obesity has increased in the country and what it is that can be done to reduce it. (Seychelles Nation)
The Ministry of Health has identified numerous areas of the health sector that needs improvements and one main concern is the high level of obesity in Seychelles.
A two-day workshop was organised last week on the annual Health Sector Performance Report of 2022 in which areas of concern that have to be addressed were highlighted.
The principal policy analyst, Dr Sanjeev Pugazhendhi, described the high level of obesity as a public health urgent concern.
“We want to work with other sectors as well so that we can make evidence-based interventions, to see what can have an impact on the risk factors causing people to become obese or put on excess weight,” he said.
The report shows that just over one in three girls – 35 percent – and just under one in three boys – 30 percent – are overweight or obese.
He added that there needs to be an exercise to see why obesity has increased in the country and what it is that can be done to reduce it.
Recently, the government set up a task force to deal with obesity, and Dr. Pugazhendhi revealed that they have already met a number of times and are working on an action that will be completed before the end of October.
Another concern raised in the report is the increase in cancer-related deaths in 2022 especially among the male population.
|A two-day workshop was organised last week on the annual Health Sector Performance Report of 2022. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
According to the report, cancer is the leading cause of death in 2022 with 159 deaths, 102 males and 57 females. Prostate cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in men with 33 deaths among men of 60 years.
“One of the priorities that we have identified is how to strengthen our screening programmes, since most of the time it can detect cancer early or even prevent it, it has been the best way to prevent death,” said Pugazhendhi.
He added that the Ministry is working on other ways to test people, so that results are available early, with a new faster test for pap-smear having already been introduced.
The Ministry of Health is also looking for ways to improve treatment for other diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia and others.
Analysis of the complete sequence of cause of death in death certificates in the report shows that diabetes and hypertension were noted in 128 (14 percent) and 248 (27 percent), respectively, in 2022.
“Another thing the report has shown us is the need to look at ways to prevent people from catching infections in the hospital itself, with a committee already set up to look for ways to reduce the risks of infections spreading with health facilities,” said Pugazhendhi.
The principal secretary for health, Dr Bernard Valentin, said although the Ministry was alarmed and worried by the state of the population’s health, it has not despaired.
“We are worried because when comparing our country with other countries like us, the difference is alarming. However we can address these health problems that exist to make sure that life expectancy continues to increase, which is a good mark to identify the improvement of the nation’s health,” he said.
Valentin said that there is a need for each individual to take responsibility for their well-being and take care of their health by “watching what we eat as a family, physical activities we do, seeking help early, are all the things that help to keep us healthy.”
“It is very important for everyone to look after themselves and families also must play their part in ensuring their good health,” he added.
The workshop, which was held with the participation of audiences from outside the medical field, was organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.
The annual Health-Sector Performance Report, which is essential to the ministry’s governance role and sector responsibility, provides an overview of the health sector’s development.