Women's Reproductive Health Lecture

Participants at the lecture follows instructions to stretch from Dr. Kamaria Keens Dumas JackParticipants at the lecture follows instructions to stretch from Dr. Kamaria Keens Dumas Jack

As the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development continues with its efforts to raise awareness of women’s issues and fulfil the mandate of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2018 to “#PressforProgress,” the Division, in collaboration with the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) hosted a lecture on Women’s Reproductive Health on Monday 9th April, 2018 at the Scarborough General Hospital.

In her brief welcome Ms. Ingrid Melville, Deputy Chairman and CEO (Ag.), TRHA conveyed her desire for participants to have a better understanding of, and learn how to manage the issues that affect women.

Councillor Dr. Agatha Carrington, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development, in her opening remarks explained “notwithstanding the gains we have made in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights… all of which contributed to the significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goals…critical gaps continue to exist.” She went on to explain that maternal mortality, unsafe abortions and physical and sexual violence continue to affect our women, which has led to sexual and reproductive health rights being a pillar in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Carrington encouraged the female attendees to “be as healthy as you can be.” She added that we should pay attention to our sexual health, “which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.” The Secretary also encouraged safe motherhood and shared the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) commitment to support reproductive health rights. She said “The THA began a collaboration with the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), which would be formally launched in May 2018.” [to support proper family planning].

The two and a half hour lecture was broken into three segments which began with Dr. Kamaria Keens-Dumas-Jack, Physiotherapist II at the TRHA. The focus during this session was on the ‘Importance of Movement for Health,’ particularly for women in the workplace. Interactive and filled with information, Dr. Keens-Dumas Jack gave helpful tips to maintain good posture when standing and while at one’s desk, the effects of carrying a heavy handbag such as the ‘Thoracic Outlets Syndrome,’ and the causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders that are common at the office, but preventable.

Dr. Leslie Bishop, Specialist Medical Officer, in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the TRHA, focused her presentation on Women’s Reproductive Health. “In 2018, we cannot have females being absent from work or school every month due to menstrual cramps,” Dr. Bishop stated as she openly declared that she was advocate for ‘the pill.’ Her presentation included the benefits and effects of its use, contraceptive options and the effects of each, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and understanding the female’s body during menstruation.

Nurse Rose Ambrose, attached to the Mobile Screening Unit of the TRHA, stressed the importance for the female to truly know her body. She urged attendees, “once you have become sexually active, this changes everything and you must make it a habit to get your regular checks [Pap smear].” Nurse Ambrose advised that self-checks can be done at home and this can be the first step in identifying if something is wrong with one’s body.

Participants were free to ask questions throughout the lecture and the presenters made every effort to answer during their respective sessions. Although outnumbered by the primarily all-female audience, the few males who were present still took the opportunity to ask pertinent questions. Representatives from NGOs, youth groups, government institutions and staff of the Division and the TRHA were present.


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