Today’s Editorial August 21: Health survey can save lives

The Health Services Authority needs your help.

It is trying to get residents to take a health survey so that it can establish a baseline of the prevalence of disease here, and of the high incidence of any risk factors linked to diseases.

Establishing such a baseline is difficult in Cayman because many residents requiring significant medical treatment seek it overseas. As a result, the HSA doesn’t really know how many residents have had particular diseases or medical conditions.

The HSA launched a survey in April to try to establish the needed baseline. It hoped to get up to half of the population to take the survey, but said it needed at least 6,000 respondents to create a valid statistical report.

The problem is, only 800 residents have bothered to take the survey over the past four months. Now the HSA is just hoping to get close to the 6,000 minimum number of responses by the end of September.

All responses are anonymous and cannot be traced. Respondents are not asked to provide their names. The survey does ask what district you live in and your age range, but mostly it is concerned with your past medical history and lifestyle habits.

The HSA isn’t interested in any one person who responds to the survey; they are instead interested in percentages of the population as a whole.

If the HSA found that there were a high percentage of residents with a specific disease or medical condition, or that a large percentage of residents were doing or not doing something that is linked to specific disease risks, it could focus health campaigns on addressing those problems. The information would enable the HSA to effectively position its resources, education and preventive efforts.

However, for the survey to be beneficial, it must have enough respondents to make it statistically relevant. And that’s why the HSA is urging residents to log onto and fill-out the survey, which only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

For those who don’t have access to a computer, the HSA will be placing hard copies of the survey in the supermarkets near drop boxes.

Taking the survey is certainly a good investment of time for it some day could help save or extend your life, or the life of someone you love.

Help the HSA help you. Whether you’re Caymanian or an ex-pat, take the survey today.

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