GTI students, staff access free services at Annual Health and Wellness Fair 
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Dr. Shannon Da Silva of Da Silva’s Optical testing a student’s eyes (Delano Williams photo)
Dr. Shannon Da Silva of Da Silva’s Optical testing a student’s eyes (Delano Williams photo)

DOZENS of students and staff of the Guyana Technical Institute (GTI) were able to conveniently take various health tests when the institution held its Annual Health and Wellness Day Fair at its Woolford Avenue location on Tuesday.

Eye tests, compliments of Da Silva’s Optical, dental checkups, Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) which tests for cervical cancer, and clinical breast exams were done during the event.

A student receiving a dental exam at the GTI Health and Wellness Fair

A mental health support counselor was also on site to speak to the students, and to conduct one-on-one sessions with those who were facing challenges in their lives.

Additionally, a COVID-19 vaccination booth was set up by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to offer vaccines to staff and students.
Eighteen-year-olds, Morando Edwards and Christopher McKay, who are both First Year Computer Science students, signed up for the eye test. They praised the school for making this and the other services accessible to students.

McKay shared that he suffers from myopia, and was in need of a test for some time now. Thanks to the institution, he no longer has to delay getting the test.

“I used to wear glasses, but I don’t anymore because the last time I did, my eyes got worse really fast. So today, I just want to check to see if my eyes got worse over the period that I didn’t wear glasses, or if it’s just the same,” McKay said.

GTI Welfare Officer, Alero Procter

Edwards noted that he, too, has concerns about his eyesight, and has been planning for some time now to have his eyes checked. He said he was grateful that GTI has given him the opportunity to get this done.

“At times, my eyes would hurt, and, as of recent, I had an episode where there was a week where looking around was very painful. I didn’t get a chance to get it checked, but now that I have the opportunity to get it checked, I want to get it checked,” Edwards said.

Describing the experience at the health fair as “comfortable”, he noted that he would often feel dissuaded from getting medical checkups and tests, because of the painstaking amount of time it could sometimes take.

“I don’t get tested unless it’s a very serious problem. It would be very long and stressful, which is why I don’t go to them in the first place; which is why I’m glad to be here today,” Edwards said.

During an opening ceremony for the event, GTI Principal, Renita Crandon-Duncan emphasised the importance of early detection, and called on the students to ensure that they utilise as much of the services as they could at the health fair, regardless of how healthy they felt.

“I want to encourage you all to make use of these services. Sometimes we look all strong and healthy, but we are not necessarily healthy. So, take this opportunity to find out exactly what is going on with you, and deal with it early,” she urged.

She added: “Sometimes we tend to not pay attention to ourselves. Aside from that, as Guyanese, we tend to have this fear that when you go to the doctor, they are going to find something wrong with you, so you should probably not go there, and you will be healthy all the time. But don’t wait until it gets out of hand, and then there is nothing you can do about it.”

She noted that holding the fair during Breast Cancer Awareness Month was a deliberate move, as the institution would have had members who would’ve been affected by cancer, and so GTI wanted to do its part in bringing awareness to the illness.

“There are people sitting among us who might be suffering; persons who would have gone through procedures, and this is the time we rally around persons dealing with it,” Ms. Crandon-Duncan said.

Also making remarks was GTI’s Welfare Officer, Alero Procter, who shared a touching story of losing her aunt to Breast Cancer, which was already at Stage Four when it was finally detected.

She noted that the hosting of the fair is part of the institution’s goal to look after the overall well-being of its students and staff.

“We usually have this every year, and we think Breast Cancer Month is the opportune time to do it. We believe in a holistic education for our students, because our vision and mission is to ensure that we produce all-round, well-skilled graduates, and health, well-being, and welfare are all part of creating that all-rounded student,” Ms. Procter said.

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