Your Health; Your Responsibility
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The theme in the Seychelles for health is “your health, your responsibility.” The health care system in the Seychelles caters for access to health care for everyone. The largest proportion of the government’s budget is given to the Ministry of Health to cater for the health care of the local population.
It became clear that free health care is an expensive expenditure for the government. So combined with the budget was the theme your health, your responsibility in an attempt to make people play a more active role in keeping themselves healthy rather than relying so much on health care.
The way young people in the Seychelles have addressed this is through having educational sessions on health. The Seychelles National Youth Assembly organised a health forum for young people where there was a primary talk on mental health issues which was in celebration of international youth day (IYD). This was followed by talks on obesity, alcohol and drugs abuse, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis and pregnancy and abortion.
Interesting facts I took away from the discussions:
- Girls have a higher rate of attempted suicide than boys which are frequently as a result of boyfriends leaving.
- Young people regardless whether they are overweight according to the BMI, still wanted to put on more weight. There seems to be a culture of wanting to be on the bigger side.
- It is more likely to contract HIV through sexual intercourse than Hepatitis.
- Most people who have hepatitis are drug users.
- Abortion is illegal in the Seychelles unless authorised by a Board given the power to make that decision. The criteria to decide include mental health, age and circumstances. The people who are refused access to termination of pregnancy are given counselling.
There were 3 cases where the teenage mother was on her third child during her teenage years.
Indeed the purpose of the forum was not purely statistical but rather educational where we learned about the importance of balancing food consumption and exercise, the importance of periodical HIV tests and keeping away from drugs.
Health was one of the themes of discussions at a national youth forum on sustainable development in the Seychelles where a number of controversial issues were discussed. In terms of sexual and reproductive health the proposition was made that there should be condom distribution in schools. It was proposed that they would be found in the toilets of the schools and act as a means of access to contraception so as to lower the rate of teenage pregnancies.
However counter arguments that schools are an educational centre and sex is not meant to be on the minds of students and condoms availability would simply encourage such activities. The fruit of the discussion was a compromise where a pilot of a condom distribution in post-secondary institutions where students are between the ages of 16 and 19.
Furthermore the project that was chosen for implementation is peer educators where young people would be trained to educate other peers on health education. A partnership between the youth and youth health services is suggested to achieve this goal.
Are young people health conscious?