Supporting Community Engagement in The Bahamas with a Men’s Health and Wellness Trade Fair

By Quialashon Sands September 15, 2015

“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people's love and concern for each other.”-- Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity International

In The Bahamas, NASTAD is supporting the Ministry of Health to implement a national biological and behavioral surveillance survey (BBSS). Biological and behavioral surveillance surveys are an effective method for capturing HIV-related risk and exposure information, as well as disease prevalence rates, among key populations, as they link demographic and behavioral data collected in surveys to biological testing results in order to provide greater explanatory power than either method alone. The goal of the survey in The Bahamas is to inform the MoH about characteristics of populations at increased risk for HIV, as well as those already infected, in order to facilitate targeted and effective prevention planning and related service delivery.

The NASTAD Global Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey (BBSS) Team in The Bahamas believes that confidence, trust and respect between the community and those who serve it are critical in effective public health initiatives. With this in mind, the team has worked diligently to strengthen community partnerships by supporting local events and by hosting activities that are tailored to the population of interest while promoting The Bahamas Men’s Health Survey (MHS). The most recent of these endeavors was a Men’s Health and Wellness Trade Fair.

The purpose of the fair was to promote the Men’s Health Survey (MHS), foster community engagement, familiarize attendees with the MHS coupon in an effort to encourage recruitment, and continue to reinforce relationships formed within the community and with key stakeholders. A wide array of vendors supported the event, each offering a unique product that appealed to those in attendance. The Pinkylicious Company featured a beautiful display of healthy desserts, smoothies and juice samples. They also conducted a fitness demonstration, which proved to be very exhilarating. Stakeholders and attendees alike found themselves working up a sweat as they joined in with the fitness trainer and his assistant for a 10 minute workout. A condom demonstration led by the Society Against STIs and HIV (SASH Bahamas) was also very informative. Another fantastic highlight was the panel discussion steered by Mr. Kevon Lightbourne and Dr. Phillipa Pratt, which empowered the men to take responsibility for their own health. Additionally, the Healthy Lifestyles division of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted general health screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol. All vendors were well received by the attendees, who anxiously requested that the Men’s Health Survey team host another similar event in the near future.

Overall, feedback received from vendors, stakeholders and attendees was very positive. “The Men’s Health Survey should have similar events. I would certainly participate if the event was held again”, stated one of the fair vendors. The community members and MHS staff agreed that the Men’s Health and Wellness Trade Fair was successful in bringing awareness to the Men’s Health Survey and in strengthening the ties between the population of interest and those who serve them.

If you are interested in learning more about how NASTAD is supporting biobehavioral surveillance in The Bahamas, please contact Robin Flanagan.

Visit NASTAD.org/global to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.