Health minister Nandi Glassie emphasised this in his opening address to the 18th Annual Cook Islands Health Conference yesterday. He said a collective approach was needed to overcome issues related to trauma.
The Rarotonga segment of the conference, which ends tomorrow at The Edgewater Resort and Spa, is focused on the theme “Trauma across the Life Span.”
A number of health experts have travelled from overseas to speak at the conference which is attended by staff from the Ministry of Health and government and non-government agencies, as well as traditional leaders.
Glassie said this year’s theme was very general but would be well covered in the conference over the next two days.
The topics identified for presentations range from workforce development and road safety, through to non-communicable diseases, mental health, violence against women. Some research results will be discussed, as well as some cases presented.
“The presenters of these papers are to be commended for making this conference the platform for sharing your work and experiences,” Glassie said.
“Understanding and building capacity and capability is only one stream of managing trauma. The impacts of trauma on individuals, families and communities extends beyond the physical and psychological, it impacts hugely on our economy.
“There are four main risk factors that we can all modify or eliminate from our lives which could go a long way to reducing the negative health impacts on our people. Stop smoking tobacco/cigarettes, eat a balanced diet and moderate portion of food, and increase physical activities and moderate the consumption of alcohol.”
Glassie said alcohol abuse, speeding and wearing no safety protection while driving motorcycles had resulted in trauma, disability and death for many individuals and families on this island.
He said the passing of the compulsory helmet law for 16-25 year olds was the start to government’s campaign in this area, adding compulsory helmeting for all motorbike riders was the ultimate aim of the five-year road safety strategy that cabinet had endorsed.
“The Ministry of Health must continue to build partnership and strengthen existing relationships with other government agencies, non- government agencies and development partners if we are to make a difference to the health of our people.
“The Ministry of Health is unable to make a difference on its own. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge some of our non -government agencies like the Child Welfare Association, the Child Family Welfare Association, the Red Cross Society, Te Vaerua Rehabilitative Centre, the Creative Centre, the Cook Islands Breast Cancer Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, disability council and the Te Kainga mental health community centre for the work that you are doing for our people in addressing some of the burden on individuals, families and communities here on Rarotonga and Te Pa Enua.”
The Aitutaki segment of the conference will be held on Monday and Tuesday next week.