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Starting with prevention
Canada Health Day Fair focuses on diabetes, immunization and colorectal cancer

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - Education and prevention were at the core of a recent event at the Fort Simpson Health Centre.

NNSL photo/graphic

Bernice Hardisty-Isaiah, left, a health promotion officer, and Karen Simon, a community health representative, stand with one of the booths that was on display at the Fort Simpson Health Centre during a Canada Health Day Fair on May 12. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

In recognition of Canada Health Day, a day that celebrates public health in the country, Dehcho Health and Social Services’ health promotion team held a fair at the centre on May 12. Residents were encouraged to come and look at the promotional booths on different aspects of health that the team developed and used in the region during the past year.

A lot of people are visual so the booths, which include graphics and short sections of text, are ideal ways to spread information, said Karen Simon, a community health representative with health promotion.

Simon was on hand to draw attention to three key booths on issues that the team is currently focusing on. Immunization was at the top of the list.

“A lot of people are not bringing their children in to get immunized,” she said.

Immunization is done not just for an individual but with the community in mind. People who haven’t been immunized can spread diseases like chickenpox to other residents who have not been immunized and even people who have been immunized can catch mild cases, said Simon.

To emphasize the importance of immunization everyone who came to the fair had the opportunity to check if their immunization was up to date and to have a nurse see them immediately if it wasn’t.

The team is also attempting to raise awareness about colorectal cancer. Colorectal is the most common type of cancer in the Deh Cho. Forty-four per cent of all females and 35 per cent of all males who are diagnosed with cancer in the region have colorectal.

“We’re trying to catch people in the early stages,” said Simon.

To get people to do preventative screening, the team is having to overcome a local stigma whereby residents, even those with a family history of the cancer, are reluctant to talk about it openly.

The team is also being proactive about diabetes. There is a rise of both young and old people becoming diabetic, said Simon.

The health promotion team is spreading information about diabetes and preventative measures people can take to avoid becoming diabetic.

“Prevention is key,” said Jeannine Gaulin, the acting nurse administrator at the health centre.

By starting with education and prevention, the hope is residents will be able to take greater control over their own health, Gaulin said.

Lorayne Menicoche-Moses was one of the Fort Simpson residents who came to the fair.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said.

Menicoche-Moses left with handouts about diabetes, an exercise band and a pamphlet on exercises that can be done at a work desk.

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