Today was the 2nd session and was focusing on Cancer and was supported by Macmillian Cancer Support (MSC). The session was attended by about 30 people , 5 of whom were designated as Health Champions from within the community whose role will be to continue to promote the health messages after the sessions have finished.
Amanda Fry from MCS, and Nishi Madan, Senior Public Health Manager (DCC) led the event with translation support from RCC members. The course gave an insight into the many lifestyle factors that could result in any form of cancer, and prompted questions on the signs and symptoms that one should look out for that would indicate that a referral to the GP was necessary.
For those of us have been brought up in the UK all our life, we are bombarded by health messages continuously and, for those who are receptive, have a reasonable understanding of what lifestyle changes are necessary for healthy living. How many people actually make the change is a moot point given the level of obesity, heart disease and avoidable cancers that are recorded.
For those Roma people who have lived in a more austere environment, where the opportunity to chose a lifestyle was a luxury, and where this nature of education has been absent, will need a much more intensive and repetitive programme to ensure that some of the complexities are fully embedded. It is critical to start with awareness but it is equally important to guide people on options to change their lifestyle particularly with different recipes and practical solutions that provide a sustainable future.
This style of direct engagement with the community is the only way to achieve any progress. Sadly the Public Health function within the Derby City Council is being re-organised and more emphasis will be placed with on-line self-assessment and information provision. Nishi’s job, and that of her team, which is based on years of experience of working with people in the area, is most likely to end very soon. It would appear that this does not save money, but seems to be based on a poor decision from certain seniors within the council who lack the insight into how best to educate and nurture health awareness in new communities.
This is not about pandering to the special needs of the Roma people, it is about accepting that a gap exists in the knowledge of some people within our city who, with a level of support, have the opportunity to improve their life chances and hopefully reduce their potential burden on the National Health Service. Surely that is a responsibility that is mandatory and high priority?