A week long testing of non-communicable diseases begins today in Honiara.
The ‘Honiara Health Expo’ was organized by the Honiara City Council’s Health Division in collaboration with a Primary Health Care team from Atoifi Hospital in East Malaita.
This is the second time the expo is held in Honiara, the last time was in April this year at the Maranatha Hall.
SIBC Online this morning and throughout the afternoon, joined a number of public servants and members of the general public that convened under the white and blue tents at Town ground.
It was a nine step process that included testing sugar levels, blood pressures, pulse rates, health tips and some exercise. It also revealed a person’s life expectancy and offered free counselling.
Second year students at the Atofi nursing schools in their dark blue uniforms assisted the nurses and doctors at the different stalls.
The first step was Registration where names were later called out to form groups of ten people.
The second step was at the Temperance table, where they recorded the heights and weights of the participants and finished off with a discussion about doing things in a balanced way.
The next was the Sunshine stall , where the topic was on the benefits of sunlight.
The benefits of Sunlight included vitamin D, killing of germs, improvement on the quality of sleep and helps depression.
Next was the Nutrition stall.
This was where most of the groups seemed to spend a little more time.
The advice offered was that people in Honiara should eat less of carbohydrate food such as rice, potato and cassava and protein food, meat and fish.
It encouraged participants to eat more food containing fiber like pineapples, yam, taro and mango. The team also encouraged them to eat a variety of colored foods at the market.
Lovelyn Justus, a registered nurse at Marara clinic in Guadalcanal helping out at the expo said, the darker the foods are the more nutrition they contain.
“The insides of our body are made of different colors. For example the eyes might look black on the outside but they are yellow from the inside. We should eat more colored foods to match the colors inside our bodies”, she said.
“Why are we spending money on taiyo and rice? What good good are they doing to our bodies? Nothing.
“We should change our taste buds. Eat more cabbages with tomato and ginger. It is very nutritious and looks good on the plate.”
Mrs Justus told the participants the main meal for each day should be breakfast.
“Eat like a king at breakfast, eat like a queen at lunch and at dinner, you should eat like a poor man.”
The fifth stall was Air. Here the participants took turns in a breathing test.
From there it was the Water stall with the slogan ‘ No life without water.’
The advice was very clear ; always drink two cups of glasses of water in the morning and drink eight to ten glasses throughout the day.
The next stall was Exercise and everyone had some fun. There was a little talk about its benefits and afterwards the participants took a three minute exercise.
Their heart rates were tested right after they stopped. They were then sent over to the ‘Rest’ stall.
At the stall the participants were told they need seven to eight hours sleep each day , and one whole day of rest.
The team there discussed the different forms of relaxation available including reading a favorite book, walking, or listening to music.
The benefits of having adequate rest or sleep they were told, was that it increases daytime alertness, improves learning abilities and enhances ability to cope with pain.
The final session was counselling.
Here the participants each sat down with an experienced registered nurse who discussed with them the results of the different tests they engaged in.
The counselors provided free advice and listening ears. They concluded each session with a word of prayer.
The whole process took nearly six hours, almost the whole day. But no one complained, the sessions were fun , very informative and they were free.
Mike Puia who looks after Atofi hospital’s health information system said, they particularly want young people to participate in the remaining four days.
“It is the young people who are involved in some of the serious issues contributing to NCDs like drinking and smoking” he said. “It’s very important for them to come. We want them to come.”
NCDs have been reported to be the leading cause of mortality in Solomon Islands, with 60 percent of all deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases including cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes.
By: Kikiva Tuni