Belfast Telegraph

6,000 people from rural areas attend mobile 'health check' sessions

By Noel McAdam

More than 6,000 people from farming families have attended special 'health check' sessions in the past three years.

Out of those more than half were advised to go to their GPs for follow-up appointments.

Overall, more than 8,000 people have attended the mobile check-ups, of which three-quarters were male.

Of the total, 78% indicated that they were either farmers or from a farming community, with the remaining 22% residing in a rural area. A mobile unit set up in 2012 goes to local markets, agricultural shows and other community events.

It is a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Public Health Agency (PHA).

More than £600,000 has been spent on the programme so far, DARD has revealed. The agency said the programme "offers a means for farmers and their families to access health checks from a portable clinic and from local community settings.

"This innovative project consists of a mobile unit which will be available at local markets and community events across Northern Ireland, to offer on-the-spot health checks consisting of blood pressure monitoring, BMI, cholesterol check and diabetic screening. In addition, individual lifestyle advice is given on a range of health issues and onward referral completed to local support services as required.

"This programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the PHA and is run in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust."

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill's department said: "We currently support a number of initiatives aimed at promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in rural areas" - under the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Framework.

"In addition to the Farm Families Health Checks project, DARD also provides funding to the Rural Support charity which provides a listening and signposting service for farmers and rural dwellers and includes the provision of advice on finance, debt, benefits and mental health issues.

"DARD supports the Health in Mind project which aims to promote positive mental health in rural areas through reading, learning and information activities."

Belfast Telegraph


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