Seychelles: Language barrier remains a major patient safety matter

Person Centered Care Symposium
Speakers at one of the pioneering patient-centered care symposium in Seychelles emphasized that optimal communication with patients is a central element of good person-centered care

Several members of Seychelles Patients Association have reiterated that the language barrier between certain foreign doctors and local patients is a major patient safety concern.

“Now that the health system is focusing on improving clinical care quality to begin comparing Seychelles with OECD countries, we need to address language barrier as early as possible” said the member of patients association at this week-end’s annual general meeting on Praslin. “It is a major patient safety matter.”

The management of Seychelles Patients Association concurs with its members that the number of foreign doctors who cannot communicate adequately with patients continues to be a major patient safety issue in Seychelles.

“The most desirable position is for doctors who cannot adequately speak any of the three local languages to be barred from practicing medicine or dentistry in Seychelles,” health professionals and patients alike have argued.

Whilst the law is broad enough to do this, policy has not followed suit, often because of challenges involved in finding an alternative doctor.

“This is not good enough,” argued one member.  “Patients’ lives matter. Let’s do whatever it takes to get good doctors, doctors who can speak!” she continued.

“Sonny nou byen!”

Hail to the new year! Words from the Chairman

Part of the Membership of Praslin Island who attended the Annual General Meeting. One person on social media noticed the absence of men. We need to work on our male membership. 

2020 has come and, in earnest, Seychelles Patients Association has started its new round of activity.

We are starting off with our annual general meetings. Since our membership is spread over three islands, we will try as much as possible to meet with the members of all three islands in separate meetings and share profound thoughts with them with regard to where the Association should be going throughout 2020 and beyond.

Whilst we will continue to implement the unfinished business of the 2019 workplan, this year we will also try, as much as possible, to delve into innovations so as to make the association as relevant as it can be.

As much as possible, we will try to impact the lives of patients who are hospitalized or are admitted in care institutions. We will look carefully at their environment of care and we will look closely at their basic human rights and to what extent these rights are being respected in the care setting.  We will draw lessons from our close observations to drive our advocacy work.

From the feedback we received from the first part of our AGM on Praslin on the 18th January, we will proceed and adopt the words “Sonny Nou Byen” as our tagline, trade mark and business name.

We will invite all our members to be as active as possible. This year, every member must do something for a patient or for several patients.

We hail the new year and we roll up our sleeves for some serious work ahead.

Support to first World Patient Safety Day

Victoria-based company, Double Click, partnered with Seychelles Patients Association in the commemoration of the first World Patient Safety Day on the 17th September this year.

The company presented a cheque of SR20,000 to the Vice Chairperson of Seychelles Patients Association (SPA), Mrs Maizline Esther, on Tuesday 20th August at the Head Office of DoubleClick on the 3rd floor of Orion Mall.

“With this much appreciated donation, SPA will produce short educational videos and other educational materials on patient safety,” says Vice Chairperson Maizline Esther.

“We all know that most of the time, health workers work extremely hard to restore our health and we are indeed grateful to them for that. However, patient safety is extremely important for us as a patient advocacy association.”

“We all want to feel safe when we use a health facility,” reaffirms the Director of DoubleClick, Muditha Gunathilake. “We do not want to be harmed through inattentiveness, negligence or incompetence,” he added. “DoubleClick is happy to help!”

Our position on cancer

Our greatest disappointment as a patient advocacy and solidarity association is when our fellow citizens present for help at a facility with stage IV cancer. We concur with the Harvard School of Public Health on the following key points about cancer prevention. 

Early diagnosis is important, but can you go one better? Can you reduce your risk of getting cancer in the first place? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented.

1. Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.You don’t have to be an international scientist to understand how you can try to protect yourself and your family. The 10 commandments of cancer prevention are:

2. Eat properly. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase the risk of colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman’s risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Exercise will help protect you even if you don’t lose weight.

4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Calories count; if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise.

5. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to an average of one drink a day. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon; it also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Smoking further increases the risk of many alcohol-induced malignancies.

6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. Get medical imaging studies only when you need them. Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers. But don’t worry about electromagnetic radiation from high-voltage power lines or radiofrequency radiation from microwaves and cell phones. They do not cause cancer.

7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles.

9. Make quality sleep a priority. Admittedly, the evidence linking sleep to cancer is not strong. But poor and insufficient sleep increases is associated with weight gain, which is a cancer risk factor.

10. Get enough vitamin D. Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that’s nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies. But don’t count on other supplements.