Africa News Bulletin

Seychelles: Hypertension, Diabetes Screening to be Standardised

SEY-PEN (Package of essential non-communicable diseases in primary health care) programme is now being integrated into all primary health care settings in the country.

It was the chief executive for the Health Care Agency, Dr Danny Louange, who officially launched the decentralisation of the programme, during a ceremony yesterday at the Sheikh Khalifa conference room, at the Seychelles Hospital.

The SEY-PEN, adapted from the WHO-PEN, is an innovative and action-oriented response to the challenges involved in the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The launch, attended by officials of the Ministry of Health, Public Health Authority and Health Care Agency, doctors, nurses, and other health workers comes three years after the SEY-PEN project was piloted in the Beau Vallon and Anse Aux Pins health centres.

It is now being extended to all public health facilities in the country in order to strengthen the NCD services in primary health centres, in line with National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) 2022-2026, Continuity of Essential Services 2021 and the NCD strategic plan 2016-2025.

When addressing the guests, Dr Louange called on all health workers who will be involved with the implementation of the SEY-PEN package to put their hearts into it as an effective implementation of SEY-PEN will help the country align with the recent national strategic plan, “improve universal health coverage as well as attain global targets related to NCDs”.

It should be noted that NCD-related deaths in 2021 stood at 448, representing 48.5% of the country’s total death.

According to the committee’s local coordinator, Dr Vivianne Camille, it focuses on prevention, early detection, early diagnosis, standard management, and prevention of complications related to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

“Effective now, the service offered to our patients in all our health facilities across the country will be standard, meaning the service and treatment offered in Beau Vallon will be exactly the same as in English River health centre, Praslin or La Digue,” explained Dr Camille.

According to the Health Care Agency, the package includes simple, affordable tools such as clinical measurements, CVD risk assessment charts, blood pressure and blood sugar measurement devices, as well as evidence-based standard protocols for primary and secondary disease prevention.

It also comprises affordable appropriate medicine and appropriate referral systems.

Screening will be done in adults who are 40 years old and above. Dr Camille said other than screening for hypertension and diabetes, they will also be educating the patients about their risk factors.

“Treatment is not the first option. People should understand that lifestyle changes is a key factor and needs to be done. We will therefore educate the patients on what to do to manage their health.”

Dr Camille said the SEY-PEN programme will target everybody calling at a health care centre and not just regular patients.

“These include patients who do not have to see doctor regularly, such as those coming for other services like dressing, blood tests, ante-natal care, family planning, physiotherapy or dental service. We want to capture everybody.”

The Health Care Agency said it was starting with 40-year-olds and above as it was better to manage a specific population group. However, those who are younger and already suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes can still come forward for screening. This also applies to those who do not have the two medical conditions but come from a family presenting certain risk factors or are obese.

The first phase of the programme starts in mid-October, which is the training of health professionals who will be using the SEY-PEN materials and tools.

The Health Care Agency is training them by region, twice weekly, starting with the northern region. Dr Camille said this will be done by region so as not to disrupt daily work.

To ensure continuity and consistency once the programme is integrated into all health centres, Dr Camille said the committee will be doing a lot of monitoring.

“We are stressing a lot on this because we need to continuously monitor to ensure we can sustain and maintain it. So any health centre that faces certain difficulties should alert us, so that we can step in and assist because SEY-PEN needs to be implemented as it needs to work. There’s no way around it,” added Dr Camille.

Although HCA is starting with the diabetes and hypertension, it plans to include cancer, which it says, is also considered a major concern in Seychelles.

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