Seychelles, 2nd December 2019 - Seychelles is strengthening its Primary Health Care services through implementation of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Package of Essential Non-communicable disease interventions (PEN). This Seychelles PEN project was officially launched on 29th November 2019 by the Minister for Health, Jean-Paul Adam, at the Seychelles Hospital, Victoria. Highlighting the importance and urgency to introduce the PEN in Seychelles, the Minister reminded everyone that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors is a public health emergency for the country. The Minister confirmed that NCDs currently accounts for 81% of all deaths in the country, with incidence of overweight and obesity in Seychellois children now reaching 41%.
"It is essential therefore that we move quickly to address the issue of NCDs because it constitutes our main disease burden. This means that we have to be determined in trying to manage these diseases as they occur in our primary health care setting in a more systematic manner, and very importantly trying to prevent complications from occurring. In that sense we are implementing a project - the PEN - which is simultaneously prevention and treatment. This project involves us offering treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases side by side in an integrated and seamless experience of care" the Minister explained.
Minister Adam alluded that dealing with NCDs is more than just treating the patient, but is also about giving people the life skills to be able to cope with these chronic conditions that they will live with for the rest of their lives. The PEN project, the minister said, will provide the country with the right tool to be able to do just that.
The Seychelles PEN project, which is initially being implemented in two health facilities, Anse Aux Pins Health Centre and Beau Vallon Health Centre, started implementation phase on 11th November 2019. With the guidance of WHO, the two health facilities have standardized and integrated management of diabetes and hypertension. The objectives of the project are to scale up cost-effective intervention for early detection, diagnosis and management of the two conditions.
A Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Advisory team from the three level of the Organisation - Headquarters, Regional Office and Country Office - assisted a multidisciplinary technical working group (TWG). The TWG from the Health Care Agency (HCA), developed national standard tools for detection and management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Primary Health Care. The two facilities were initially assessed in July 2019, followed by orientation of the TWG members, and adaptation of WHO-PEN to the Seychelles context. A training of trainers facilitated by WHO was then conducted, followed by training of health care workers from the two facilities. Some forty health care workers who followed the training also received their certificate during the official launching ceremony.
Thanking the Health Care workers for their enthusiasm to ensure Seychelles PEN is successfully implemented, the Chief Executive Officer of HCA, Dr Danny Louange reminded them of the need for everyone to be on board with this project.
"I salute the work that has been done as yet and the involvement of everyone; the technical support from WHO, the technical working group members, nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. We are all one with this programme. We are launching it in step phases but in the longer term we are going to see benefits from this approach" Dr. Louange confirmed.
PEN is a prioritized set of cost-effective interventions for the integration of essential NCD services at Primary Health Care. The package includes simple, affordable tools (e.g. clinical measurements, simple laboratory testing and cardiovascular risk assessment charts) for early detection and treatment of the diseases.
The output generated from monitoring and evaluation during the 9 months initial phase will be used to inform the expansion to other health centres. Whilst the initial phase of Seychelles Pen is targeted more on diabetes and hypertension, as it progresses, and with the continued technical support of the WHO, the project will expand to include other NCDs namely cancers and respiratory diseases.