The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) is being called on to repeat its Child Wellness Initiative, which saw the screening of some 1,200 children before last week's start of the new school year.
The exercise took place on August 24 – a Saturday – at the Women's Centre, Mt Hope Women's Hospital.
Several parents told Sunday Newsday the check-ups are needed to help those who cannot afford to take their children to private doctors and will also accommodate those who are unable to take time off of work to carry their children to health centres or hospitals during the work week.
Afeisha Vincent, who attended last month's screening, took her son six-year-old Jayshawn for the dental screening. While waiting Jayshawn played with a colourful toy truck given to him by one of the attendants.
Vincent was grateful for the exercise and said the demands of her job and financial constraints made it difficult for her to take her son for private medical check-ups. She said by mid-August, parents focused solely on buying schoolbooks and not so much on their children's health. She said she only goes to the hospital if her son is ill and had not placed much focus on dental hygiene, as his teeth appeared fine.
However, Dr Natasha Kochhar, head of the Dental Department, said their focus was to promote oral health as an integral part general health care.
Alexi Jones, five, flashed a huge grin after she had her teeth examined. The second year student of St Joseph Girls' RC School said the favourite part of being at the hospital was her doctor's visit and said she would ask her mother to take her for a check-up once a year.
Dr Joanne Paul, head of the Paediatrics Emergency Unit, advised parents that annual visits to the doctor should be just as important as servicing a car or cleaning one's home.
Father of two, Leonardo Rodriguez, didn't let his wife's absence (due to work commitments), deter him from taking his daughters, Amairah, seven, and Aaliyah, five, to the screening.
The initiative also included a literacy session hosted by Let's Read, discussions with Guardian Life about health insurance and a career-oriented event with members of the fire and police services.
Among the services provided were: BMI, blood pressure testing, lectures, hearing and vision screening, dental check-ups, vaccines, as well as consultation with adolescent health specialists.
In a release, NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas described the initiative as a step in a series to improve the health of adults and children.
“More and more we are seeing incidences of NCDs affecting younger population. This was of great concern to us and we thought it best to implement this initiative – designed specifically to respond to that," he said.
"At the NCRHA, we are seeking the best interest for the entire family, not just the men and women, but our younger ones as well. We are aware of the impact we can have by effectively intercepting and educating them from this young age, and this will have positive implications for the health of our future society… we want to create more aware and healthier young people who can carry us into a healthier future,” Thomas said.
According to reports, of the 1,200 plus children screened the following services were provided:
* 961 doctor consultations
* 862 dental screenings
* 521 hearing and vision screenings
* 129 dietician consultations
* 57 ophthalmology
* 33 vaccines.