By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
THE ONE Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) is all set and ready to go when it comes to educating Bahamians on the topic of cardiovascular health.
With cardiovascular disease being prevalent in the Bahamas – it affects people who suffer from obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, among other conditions – the OEF decided to host a two-day event focused on the subject.
In partnership with the Family Medicine Centre and the Cancer Society of Eleuthera, the OEF is hosting the forth annual Pathway to Wellness Symposium on Cardiovascular Health in various locations in Eleuthera from July 30 to 31. The theme of the event is “Cardiovascular Health: Heart Matters”.
A health fair will take place on the Haynes Library grounds from 10am to 1pm on July 30. It will offer information pamphlets, food and health screening booths and special giveaways. The welcome reception will take place at the Eleuthera Arts & Cultural Centre in Tarpum Bay on July 30, 7pm to 8.30 pm. This is a time for event speakers and the public to mix and mingle.
The symposium on cardiovascular health will then take place at the Cancer Society Wellness Centre in Palmetto Point on July 31, 8am to 4pm.
Gacintha Gordon, director of IT and Communications at OEF, said the symposium’s purpose is to create rich dialogue among local, national and international health and medical professionals that will assist in developing a strategy tailored to holistically improving the health and wellness of all Eleutherans.
“Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. According to the Department of Statistics, 25 per cent of all deaths in the Bahamas are directly related to cardiovascular disease, making this ailment the leading cause of death in the country as well,” said Ms Gordon.
As a foundation, Ms Gordon said their focus is on affecting systemic change, and this is the reason that they often undertake such diverse and in-depth projects like the upcoming symposium.
She said hosting the Pathway to Wellness Symposium gives her a feeling of euphoria because they are getting through to people. Whether it is through their Breast Cancer Outreach Programme funded by Susan G Komen, or through the Eleuthera Community Farms, which provide locally grown, fresh produce, more and more people are becoming aware of the health issues plaguing this country and are gradually making the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to decrease their risk of being affected by noncommunicable diseases NCDs.
Ms Gordon described cardiovascular disease as the “silent killer”.
“We have seen people as young as 18 die from undiagnosed heart conditions. It is important for our people to take their health seriously and make the necessary changes to their lifestyles in order to improve their life span,” she said. “Healthy heart, healthy life – the overall goal of the event is to bring awareness to mitigating and minimising various NCDs like cardiovascular disease.”
Over the course of the two days, speakers of the symposium will include Dr Shakera Carroll taking on the topic “Who’s At Risk and Why?”; Dr Tonya Roker-Davis will speak on “Risk Reduction and Prevention”; Dr Dionne Dames on “Medical Management of Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Failure”; Dr Frederick P Smith will touch on “What to Watch Out For”; Dr Sharad Johnson will speak on “Lifestyle: The Key to Success”; Father Scott Brennen will address “The Healthy Spirit”; Rev David Cann will speak on “Healthy Coping: The Power of Positive Thinking”, and Kitiboni Adderley will speak on “The Physical Therapist’s Role in Heart Health and Healthy Eating”.
Ms Gordon said all speakers were chosen based on their knowledge and expertise in their respective fields as well as their ability to engage an audience.
As one of the organisers, she is looking forward to the vital information that will be shared on such an important topic as cardiovascular health. Furthermore, she looks forward to the case studies and ideas that will be shared to assist Eleutherans in decreasing their risks that lead to cardiovascular disease.
Ms Gordon said such an event is important to her because Eleuthera is her home and it is a pleasure to be involved in such an event as the Pathway to Wellness and work for a visionary organisation like OEF.
“We are working to change alarming health statistics that are mostly due to noncommunicable diseases which are preventable or manageable. We expect to continue this for years to come. Prevention, treatment and management options are always advancing and we hope to continue educating Eleutherans. Further, we are partnering with the Family Medicine Centre and Centre for Training and Innovation (coming on stream soon) to conduct certified lay health educators training to handle NCDs,” said Ms Gordon.
OEF is a development organisation whose goal it is to strengthen the Eleuthera community by focusing on core areas like health and wellness, education, economic development, environmental protection and culture and heritage.