AMHERST – Several weeks after holding a daylong clinic at the Cumberland YMCA, local health officials are continuing to urge people to be proactive about their health.
Darla MacPherson, the Cumberland Health Authority’s vice-president of community health, spoke to members of the Amherst Rotary Club about the importance of knowing their numbers and available screening programs.
“People should know their numbers so they can be responsible for their own health,” MacPherson said. “If they see a bad number at the pharmacy or the blood donor clinic they will know to follow up with their doctor.”
MacPherson said the health authority and community health boards are working to raise awareness of things like blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels along with eye, hearing and oral health.
She said people who are proactive and participatory with their health often have better results when something develops. Unfortunately, she added, people tend to have an out of sight, out of mind attitude and will only go to their doctor when symptoms appear.
MacPherson said the same is true for cancer screening. While there are several cancer screening programs, she said, Cumberland County’s screening rates are the worst in the province.
For this reason, the CHA and Cumberland County’s community health boards have joined forces with the Nova Scotia Community College to conduct a survey of residents on why they don’t get screened for colorectal, prostate, cervical and breast cancer.
From the survey, the community health boards and the CHA’s cancer committee will develop a strategy to encouraged increase screening rates.
MacPherson also talked to Rotarians about the need to recognize signs and symptoms and talked to members about issues such as getting checked for osteoarthritis, skin health, waist circumference and body mass index and various forms of cancer.
“People need to know what it means to be physically fit and what that means to their overall health. They need to know they have to eat healthy and take responsibility for their screening because that’s going to save their life someday,” she said.