American University of St Vincent stages health fair
December 5, 2014
American University of St Vincent stages health fair

The American University of St Vincent (AUS) staged its first health fair on the weekend, with the intentions of hosting more in the future.

Last Saturday, November 29, students and members of faculty assembled at the LIME promenade, where they conducted health checks and surveys {{more}}on close to 300 persons. Additionally, these individuals were educated on non-communicable diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, as well as communicable diseases such as chikungunya and the ebola virus disease.

Dr Shakel Henson, a senior lecturer at AUS, which is located at New Montrose, said that the exercise was a tremendous success, which afforded students the opportunity to interact with the public and raise consciousness about the institution.

“It was actually an awareness measure for us to educate the Vincentian public about certain conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, given the increased number of these cases in SVG,” Dr Henson said.

“We also used the opportunity to weigh some of these patients, just to give them an idea of their body mass index.

“Body mass index is used to determine if an individual has a normal weight for his or her age and height or if they are overweight, obese or underweight,” the doctor added.

“Students also conducted a survey to find out from the public what they know about ebola and chikungunya given the recent outbreaks of these two diseases. St Vincent and the Grenadines was affected badly by chikungunya, so we wanted to get feedback from the public to determine their knowledge of this disease and whether or not they were aware that a relapse can occur.

“Ebola is now a worldwide health concern, so we were trying to get the perspectives of the Vincentian public on whether or not they actually know what it is.”

Dr Henson said that there was excellent support from the public at the health fair and that AUS intends to host another event in the near future. The patients also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have simple measures like their blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked. The turnout at the health fair showed this appreciation. From the onset to the end, there was a continuous flow of individuals who not only expressed an interest in what was

happening, but patiently waited to have their blood pressure, blood sugar and weight checked. The students cherished the opportunity to interact with these persons in terms of imparting their knowledge and sharpening some of their clinical skills.

“We are aware that diabetes and hypertension are major problems here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and also worldwide. In fact, these chronic conditions are actually among the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide, so we really felt the need to go out there and remind the Vincentian public that applying simple measures, such as eating healthy and exercising can reduce the risks of chronic diseases and prolong one’s life.”

The school, which has a student population of over 100 students, is growing vibrantly and offers the basic sciences of the Medical programme and Pre-med programmes to a diverse population of students. The Medical programme is for four years for persons with a first degree or an equivalent qualification. Prospective students who do not meet these criteria can do the Pre-med programme for one year at AUS, which, upon successful completion, then qualifies them to enter the Medical programme.

The school currently offers clinical rotations in the United States, and hopes to commence clinical rotations at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in the near future.(JJ)