Thursday, 9 May 2013

Barbados - World Asthma Day. Just the Beginning...

Well, my May holiday is drawing to a close and it has been very interesting. Barbados is wonderful and very inviting. After spending so much time here this winter pursuing my dream to Eat Sit and Think I have come to the point where I want to do more in this paradise than relaxing. 

The time I have spent here, while Derek works away on "important stuff", has been very decadent and wonderful.  After a few visits this year, I have found myself becoming spoiled. I longed for my Tassimo. I started resenting the need to put on sunscreen and I started renting a beach chair on which to rest my ever expanding derrière. Before I start demanding that Derek drive me down the road to the beach I knew it was time to regroup. I decided that I was well overdue to figure out a means to "give back" to the people who have so graciously hosted my family and me. 

I have come to readily see that so many are afflicted with asthma and reportedly the incidence of asthma in Barbados is even higher than in Canada. I am an asthma educator, so providing information by any means possible seemed an appropriate fit.  I have made ties with the Barbados Asthma Association over the past 2 years. Last year I visited shortly before World Asthma Day in May 2012. I was able to provide some asthma aids donated in Canada as well as some information packages. This year I decided to visit, specifically for World Asthma Day on May 7 . During my visit I was also given the privilege of spending some time at a local primary school providing information to students and teachers. 

Enthusiastic school children

Being  with students in Barbados was so exciting. This is a role in which I feel comfortable. Children, whether they are in snow suits or t shirts are very much the same. 

The children at the school ages, 4-10 were very knowledgeable and very respectful to "Auntie Janet" as I was introduced. The older kids participated willingly. The wee ones were enthusiastic. I did it all for the hugs.
Speaking with teachers about asthma management at school was a little more intimidating. I found the most difficult thing was being heard above the clucking of the chickens. I am serious! 
School yard Chickens

Today Derek whisked us back across the island.  Bridget and I helped to man a booth with Rosita Pollard of the Barbados Asthma Association. We provided information primarily with respect to inhaler technique and medications. Glaxo Smith Kline was providing spacers which are so crucial to good delivery of the medicine in puffers. They are unfortunately very expensive. People make do with what they have and some have devised gadgets of their own. To have them provided free of charge was an amazing thing today.
The Winston Scott 

Polyclinic saw a good number of people come through.  I also had the good fortune to meet a number of interesting individuals committed to broaden the reach of asthma education on the island of Barbados.  I expect with the individuals who are committed and skilled in lobbying and advocating, asthma control will improve greatly over the coming years. Among this group is Dr. Vincent Hutchinson, who has been key in bringing Asthma Education to children in Harlem.  He plans to return to Barbados this year.  I expect good things will be happening with respect to Asthma Education.  
Make-shift spacer 

World Asthma Day in Barbados

So with the help of Bridget my Audio-Visual geek and my husband Derek , transportation coordinator in charge of heavy lifting, we had a busy week.  I hope when we leave here after this week, at least a few people in Barbados having a bit better understanding of ways to improve asthma control.

I also hope I have made some ties to the people who are working so hard here on the island to educate and provide the means to enable the people of Barbados to manage their condition. I look forward to meeting with these people on subsequent visits to add whatever I can to support their work.

Rosita Pollard and Dr. Vincent Hutchinson of A.I.R.E
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