Friday, June 18, 2010

Give Her Last Talk of this Health Series

This evening I gave my last talk of the “Parents Health Awareness Talk Series” that is associated with the program to receive a solar light. As a thank you from each community they put together a small feast after my talks in each village. We got to enjoy kava and kakae (food) together and celebrate their hard work and participation.

The last talk focused on obesity (in Bislama its “fat fat tumas”), diabetes (“sik suga”) and high blood pressure (“hae blad pressa”). As more families are moving away from their home islands and working in the capital they are leaving behind their gardens and trading it for a sedentary lifestyle. Living in the “city” means they are not walking around as much and they are choosing rice, crackers, bread and oil over aelan kakae. For the talk I decided that I’d measure everyone’s height and weight as rarely everyone makes it into the clinic for a general check-up (as if we even do general check-ups that’s actually something I need to work on the nurse about – future project). I was able to tell each person their BMI and give them an estimate of their health currently based on body mass. Soon I hope with the extra money from the project we will be purchasing an electronic blood pressure machine so that we can do more screenings. As for testing the blood unfortunately we don’t have the equipment and those that need a test have to go into Vila (I’m hoping to request the Ministry of Health to send us urine test strips).

And so we try our best with what we got.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Talk about Family Planning

I was really glad to see both mamas and papas at my talks. I think in the past many men felt birth control was just a women’s thing, but I am glad they understand it should be a decision together. And the men also got to hear the facts about dangerous pregnancies and gave them a lot to think about in terms of family responsibility. And I was happy that some youth came that should be aware of their options. Of course I hope that parents will take my lessons I teach and talk about them with their kids but some things may be a little uncomfortable for them. My host papa was a big supporter – lecturing the men that it’s not easy for the women to give birth and that he has witnessed the pain and joy of all 3 of his son’s births. He also told them that he has realized that the day to day responsibilities of looking after the kids usually lands primarily on the women and therefore too many kids can be overwhelming for a mother. Which is so true these moms are up when the roosters crow in the morning till everyone is asleep – cooking over a fire, gathering food from the garden, hand washing all the clothes etc etc.

I am just so amazed by my host papa he is such a forward thinker.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Talk about HIV/AIDS

This week my health talk topic was on HIV/AIDS. For many of the papas and mamas this was the first time hearing about this disease. As I mentioned before HIV/AIDS has barely touched Vanuatu and very little has been done in the past to educate the people especially those on the small rural islands, but that is beginning to change now through radio broadcasts and more training of Village Health Workers to spread the word.

The parents all seemed appreciative to have someone care to give them the facts and they all were enthusiastic to take the information back to their homes. Many of the older parents see how life has changed in Vanuatu and not necessarily for the good. And although Port Vila (the capital) represents a lot of opportunity for education and income they also see it as a place of temptation and sinners. I understand their apprehension sending their kids there but as I’m sure every parent no matter what country feels some sense of fright and hope that their kids will make good decisions – that they taught them well.