The National Social Renaissance Plan of Action-Health and risky behaviour


• To promote positive living values and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle
• To protect the health, safety and quality of life of all Seychellois
It is well known that risky behaviour often leads to health problems. Substance abuse, especially drug and alcohol abuse, not only has health consequences but social ones as well. Prostitution, HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy have been highlighted as areas of concern during the National Dialogue.

Another issue that deserves attention is mental health. Very few people are aware that throughout the world, millions of people are suffering from anxiety, depression and high levels of stress. This is partly due to the fast pace of modern living.

In recognition of the challenges raised in the dialogue, the Ministry of Health is committed to remain pro-active in promoting positive living values and lifestyles. A lot of the health concerns facing people are social in nature; that is their causes are directly related to how people are living their lives, what they are eating, drinking, their sexual behaviour, etc. Again it boils down to responsibility -- people have to take ownership of their bodies and act and live in a responsible fashion. Health professionals cannot do that for us. It is up to us.

The goals and actions from this section of the Plan address mostly at-risk groups. Emphasis is placed on providing at-risk groups with accurate information and user friendly services. For example, the ministry has embarked on a campaign to support and mobilise 30 intravenous drug user Peer Educators annually for the next five years. This is a challenging goal as the peer education approach to health promotion involves identifying community members to promote health-enhancing change among their peers. Rather than health professionals educating members of the public, the idea is to get ordinary people to encourage healthy behaviour among each other.

As we see again, this is a sort of social psychology, where we get people to try and change the behaviour of their peers or groups in which they belong. It may be a challenging approach but it is an effective one. And considering that drug users are a difficult group to access, it is a wise approach to go to them rather than wait for them to come to the clinics for assistance. Among the target groups for this intervention are young people, pregnant women using drugs and sex workers.

Another goal relates to the services available to adolescents across the country. The aim is to increase such health services and make them more adolescent friendly in all health centres by 2016.  To realise this goal, the ministry is planning to offer:

• Training in integrated youth friendly and service quality assurance
• Advocacy meetings for reviews of laws relating to access to reproductive health services among young people below 18
• Peer/life skill education and community outreach events for hard to find youth populations including youth and adolescents in school
• Outreach screening for high risk youth who are out of school
Additionally, the Ministry of Health is planning to revamp the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) sub committee to review and assist with the production of IEC materials.

Education is a key component of the Social Renaissance initiative. It is hugely important that we provide the right information to the various sub-groups of our population to create awareness on risky behaviour. Parents also have to be sensitised on the various laws and policies as well as on parenting tips on adolescence.

In one sense, the National Social Renaissance Plan of Action is an opportunity for our country to fine-tune our strategies to better address the health challenges we face today. It is worth repeating that many health challenges and diseases are social in nature. Rather than fight the symptoms, it is the goal of the Plan of Action to promote the kinds of behaviour and lifestyles that benefit people, that empower them and contribute to their well-being. The Plan is certainly not entering into the private lives of people but it aims at presenting all the information that is available to each and every Seychellois in the best possible way that it can so that our young people and adults can make the most informed and educated decision on how to live their lives.
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