A delegation from St Helena Island, a British Overseas territory in the Atlantic Ocean, is on a Study Tour in Mauritius from 07 to 19 January 2019 to learn from the country’s experiences in the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. On the first day, the delegation met Dr Laurent Musango, the WHO Representative in Mauritius to discuss the supporting role of WHO in facilitating the sharing of experiences between the two islands. The members of the delegation then had a meeting with the technical team at the WHO local office to understand the NCD situation in the country and for an update on measures taken so far in view of reducing the NCD burden. In the afternoon, the mission team had a meeting with the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr. Hon. Anwar Husnoo and the high level officials. The expected outcomes of the study tour and possibilities of cooperation between the two islands were discussed.
Mauritius is a good example for St Helena Island as both islands have similar epidemiologic and demographic transitions. Since 1987, Mauritius has been implemented National NCD Prevention and Control Programme following NCD Surveys conducted every 5 years. The findings of the surveys guided policy decisions with regards to the prevention and management of NCDs. It is to be noted that over 80% of all deaths are due to NCDs in Mauritius. The prevalence of diabetes is similar to that of St Helena’s. Learning about the Mauritius NCD Prevention and Control Programme will enable the delegation from the St Helena Island to develop a plan of action to address the NCD problems in the island which has a relatively small population (4,250 inhabitants).
The mission team from St Helena comprises Mrs Susan O’Bey, Chief Secretary and Head of Government of St Helena; Mr Derek Thomas, Elected Member/Councillor for Public Health, Mrs Helen Lawrence, Assistant Director for Health Services, Mrs Jackie Henry, Nurse lead for Chronic Disease Service, Mrs Nicola Anderson, Expatriate Nurse Lead for Community Services and Chronic Disease Management and Dr Akeem Ali, Director of Health Services for St Helena Government.
The key objectives for the study visit are:
- to establish ongoing relationship and a potentially a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health in Mauritius with particular emphasis on sharing expertise and knowledge on healthcare system delivery for island populations;
- to specifically understudy the successful approach to Chronic (NonCommunicable) Disease Management so that we can adapt such learning on St Helena island;
- to explore opportunities for staff exchange, training, and sabbatical options for health specialists from Mauritius to support St Helena in healthcare delivery; and
- to explore ongoing and further technical cooperation and support relationship with WHO in Africa for healthcare and service development on St Helena island
During the mission, the delegation will hold briefing and advice sessions with technical experts on Noncommunicable Diseases Control programme in the country; visit resource-constrained service outlets successfully delivering diabetic, hypertension and chronic kidney disease care; hold strategic meetings with the political leadership at the Ministry of Health to explore options for technical and mutual cooperation; and hold exploratory with the WHO team about strengthening further relationships and technical support options. In the second week of the mission, a road map for implementation of the agreed/recommendations between the two islands will be elaborated by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, WHO and St Helena Island representative.
It is good to recall that one of the overarching principles of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan (2013-2020) is to support national action and international cooperation and solidarity to reduce the global burden of NCD. Advocacy and international cooperation was highlighted in the Global NCD Action Plan, as being vital for resource mobilization, capacity strengthening and advancing the political commitment and momentum generated by the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. Strengthened international cooperation, stronger advocacy, enhanced resources, improved capacity and creation of enabling environments are critical for attainment of the nine voluntary global targets.