Knowledge is key in fight against disease

  • Sandro Fubler, chairman of Charm, presents the new charity at the Hamilton Rotary Club (Photograph supplied)

A new charity wants to tackle Bermuda’s preventable health problems by helping people get the right health information.

The Community for Heart and Respiratory Medicine was set up to take on chronic non-communicable diseases by filling in gaps in healthcare education and make it easier for people to get professional advice.

Chairman Sandro Fubler told The Royal Gazette: “What we want to do is get some of the preventive information out there and raise awareness that people need to look after their own health and consider some of their habits or lifestyle factors that contribute to all of the major diseases in Bermuda.”

The registered physiotherapist, who works at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, teamed up with other healthcare staff to set up the charity earlier this year.

He said: “The same theme kept on coming up — the same themes of lack of education and people would say, ‘I wish I knew this before I had my bypass’, ‘I wish I knew this before I was diagnosed with heart failure’, or ‘I wish I knew this before they had to fly me overseas to have an intervention that saved my life’.”

Mr Fubler added that there is “definitely a need” for more health information.

He said: “It’s not the thing people think about most, but once you have a moment that makes you go to the emergency room, all of a sudden you are aware of these things. Why can’t we be aware a little bit earlier?”

Mr Fubler pointed to smoking in the 1950s and said: “It took the US Surgeon General’s office about 24 years to say ‘hold up a second, there’s something wrong with smoking’.

“Imagine if they had a website back then — how many people would have had the information early enough to make a difference?”

Mr Fubler said there are “so many issues” in Bermuda that could be staved off with some prevention.

But he added that better knowledge and access to professionals were key tools so people could be involved in disease prevention.

Mr Fubler said: “We’re hoping to help facilitate some of this access as well because the whole team are healthcare professionals.”

He added: “Action is the last part of it and you have to take action with this information.”

But he said it was difficult to act “if you don’t know you’re doing something wrong, if the knowledge isn’t there or you haven’t had it translated to you in the right way”.

Mr Fubler added: “There’s a certain amount of information, just by virtue of being a physio, that I am going to understand and know that an accountant won’t pick up.”

“Charm is really about getting information to people in the right way.

“We’re in this information-laden society, but quality information is probably not as plentiful as it should be and that’s what we’re hoping to bring.”

But Mr Fubler stressed that Charm was not a substitute for medical advice.

Mr Fubler added that Bermuda’s problem with non-communicable diseases was well documented.

He said: “Charm is about that last part of the prerequisites — let’s take some actions and take one baby step at a time so we can hopefully make a dent in some of these non-communicable diseases.

Mr Fubler said the charity’s website went live this weekend although it was still “a work in progress”.

He added the group was now working on ideas for campaigns and planned to run radio advertisements with “Charm facts”.

Mr Fubler said Charm also planned to work with other health organisations and charities and aimed to contribute to research in Bermuda.