‘My health, my responsibility’ from the Youth Perspective |12 July 2019
‘We often forget all that has been given to us and take it for granted’
The following is a presentation made by UniSey student Wilnette Joseph on the first day of the Primary Health Care conference being held currently at AVANI Barbarons.
“My name is Wilnette Joseph and I am currently a second year law student at the University of Seychelles (UniSey). I am also a semi professional dancer as well as dance teacher who was a former school of dance student. Now I am a member of the Emergency Crew, so besides school I dance a little.
I’m here today to talk about my health experience – be it from the health services in Seychelles, the health of those around me, and my own responsibility towards my health.
So, to begin with we need to ask ourselves, what is health?
According to the Seychelles Charter for health (October 2018) it is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual wellbeing, living harmoniously with nature and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Meaning health is not only concerned with the defence against diseases but rather with the fundamental comfort of each individual at a level that deems necessary.
This definition is rather fruitful but taking it from my point of view, I believe health encompasses our daily activities without us even realising it. Waking up each day, doing our morning routines or rather daily chores, going to work or school…at each step of the way we each find a way to maintain our health, crossing the road during the day – looking both ways before we cross, eating an apple in the late afternoons, joining exercise groups or even being a gym bug… so health care is not only about diseases like we primarily believe when we hear the word HEALTH, it is also how we maintain our physical and mental persona, whether our sleep pattern is healthy, whether our stress level is healthy, whether our workload is healthy, whether our school load is healthy and whether our household is healthy.
Thinking of health from my perspective, don’t we all think that the health centre had an excellent reason to release the statement….MY HEALTH MY RESPONSIBILITY…and rather not YOUR HEALTH YOUR RESPONSIBILTY?
I say this because MY is much more personal as opposed to YOUR in terms of being accountable for one’s actions. What other way to ensure a better health care system by holding each individual including me responsible for our own health?
In Seychelles, primary health care is offered at a community level.
Primary health care is the basic structural and functional unit of the public health services that provides accessible, affordable and available primary health care to people.
As a youth I have experienced firsthand the benefit of a free health care system in a developing country such as ours. We are all given the basic and necessary health care since birth-scratch that even before birth through regular checkups and we receive the necessary vaccines at an early stage. The health system is promoted by the educational system through classes at primary level up to secondary level and there is also compulsory checkups at each school levels to ensure each child is receiving the care they have the right to – such as vaccines and dental checkups. I remember when I was in primary school we had a weekly fluoride wash on Thursdays as a school and I used to look forward to those because our teacher told us we would have teeth up to 100 years old if we participated. Many instruments protect the right to health in Seychelles hence our free health system…such as the Seychelles Health Charter and our Constitution. This is why we need to understand just as we have the right to life we have the right to health and simultaneously the right to health care.
Furthermore, having been to different countries as a dancer, and also having lived in Sweden for a 9-month exchange, I have been able to compare our health system with many different ones and as a Seychelloise I can proudly state that we have quite a good primary health care system that ensures we receive the necessary health to live comfortably as a community. I say this because I have witnessed families turn to debt to deliver a baby, children suffering from mild fevers not being able to be consulted due to their family being poor and children being overly exposed to diseases that if protected properly would not be the case. While in Seychelles we are given treatment since being a fetus, we are continuously subjected to checkups throughout our childhood, we receive free consultations as both an adult and a child as well as free medication and if necessary we can freely be directed to a specialist if available for the matter at hand.
Health care seems to be subjected to the economic and societal factors of every country including Seychelles, however I believe health care begins with you, you and you. So the question is whether an individual owes themselves the liability to promote a healthy lifestyle essentially to enhance and better their standard of living especially in a country such as Seychelles where primary health care is free?!
I believe as individuals we should all recognise that in spite of any health systems in place, our attitude and behaviour are essential components in ensuring the medium health care necessary to be deemed comfortable. By accepting and promoting our own responsibility, then we may further our contribution to our own society by contributing to the health of others as well as ensuring the efficiency of other health workers and sectors that work alongside the health centre to help maintain the health care status of our community.
Since I am surrounded by many people my age I will not say that health related messages are not getting across to our age group because I keep seeing adverts everywhere…be it on social media, on TV, on the radio or even on the wall of a public bus stop. My opinion is that we often neglect or ignore our own health because we grew up with everything offered to us so we often forget all that has been given to us and take it for granted.
However, since my group and I have been working closely with the SNYC workers for the past few years, I can ascertain that as a youth, I have witnessed many attempts to include many of my peers in activities that did – speaking from experience – benefit their health such as exercise classes, dance classes and target groups in schools.
I also actively participate in an exercise group on a daily basis I believe we have a rather good proportion of both young and middle aged people in Seychelles that do not take their health for granted. I see them come to our exercise classes every day, ask advice about their diet, the exercise itself, how it would affect their health and how it would benefit them. I see them tired, aching and complaining but they still show up each day and we all encourage each other especially our trainer because in the end it’s our health, their health, your health and finally my health.”