National Assembly-Government ‘supports churches in tackling social ills’ |09 October 2008
She said since a national social strategy was formed in 1999, support has been given to the input of all civil societies in tackling all forms of social problems.
Mrs Lloyd was answering questions in the National Assembly on health care and social issues – including one from Waven William, put by Andre Pool on his behalf.
Mr Pool had asked what the Department of Social Development is doing to support religious groups in their drive against social ills that need a touch of moral influence to cure.
The minister said the two largest religious groups in the country are represented on most boards and committees working to solve social troubles. The Seychelles Evangelistic Alliance, which groups all 26 religious factions registered locally, also contributes to such action.
On the question, raised by Regina Alcindor, of making contraceptives available to young people below the age of 18, Mrs Lloyd said the matter was complex. However, she said a system is in place to cater for it should an adolescent seek the service without the consent of a parent.
This has to be done through a court order issued by the family tribunal as the country’s civil code does not permit the state to give contraceptive treatment to teenagers below the age of 18 without consent – even though it says they are old enough to understand the implications of sexual intercourse at the age of 15.
Mrs Lloyd noted that condoms, which are not considered a treatment and are a proven form of contraceptive – as well as one of the best ways to avoid sexual diseases – are available to teenagers should they start having sex before they turn 18.
Mrs Alcindor had also wanted to know about the ministry’s plan to tell the public, through the media, about social ills affecting families and society in general.
Mrs Lloyd said every opportunity to promote health and social care practices through the national media is used sensibly, with the ministry dictating issues it considers to be priorities.
Asked how her ministry deals with social issues at district and national level, she said the district teams, on which both the health and social development departments are represented, deal with matters arising in districts, while boards and committees such as the National Commission for Children resolve them at national level.
Moving on to other issues, Mrs Lloyd told the assembly the ministry is not facing any shortage of medicines at present.
This was a reply to Nicolas Prea’s question of whether the ministry was having any difficulties obtaining medication and what it was doing to adjust to the shortages.
She said measures have been taken since April to ensure there is always a three-month stock of essential and controlled medicines in the country; to reduce demand and ease pressure on its drugs budget; and to allow people to buy medicinal goods in pharmacies across the country instead of relying on state hospitals for all their supplies.
Hospital staff are being advised not to over-prescribe drugs so as to stretch stocks for as long as possible, she added, but the government has no intention of making people pay for medication.
Mr Prea also asked about the ministry’s ability to detect cancer so as to reduce the number of patients who die from the disease.
She said there are adequate facilities here to detect cancer but stressed that the disease has to be picked up early if patients are to have any chance of survival.
She called on people with the slightest suspicion of the disease to visit the hospital for tests. She also told the assembly that a total of 116 cancer cases were treated here last year, noting that the most common forms are breast, cervix and prostate cancer.
Finally, Mrs Lloyd answered questions from Bel Air MNA Norbert Loiseau about some eye patients whose operations by a group of visiting specialists from Kenya earlier in the year were unsuccessful. She noted that out of 240 cases, 26 failed for medical reasons.
She said some of these patients are now being treated overseas, while others are waiting for the arrival of an eye specialist, due at the end of the month.
Asked why the ministry was finding it difficult to keep or appoint an eye specialist, she said such specialists are rare and their reasons for leaving sometimes have nothing to do with the package they are offered.