DCMO urges change in taste in the war against Cancers.

GEORGETOWN, MOPH – Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr Karen Campbell challenged Linden residents to change their taste to help the country win the war against cancer.

“In the Caribbean research has shown that by far the majority of our caloric intake is not from the foods we eat but from the sugars we consume from highly-sweetened beverages. We must choose water or fresh, unsweetened juices and ‘smoothies’ which are full of cancer- fighting vitamins”, Dr. Campbell said while addressing the crowd at the Cancer Awareness Concert held in the bauxite-mining town last weekend.

Ministry of Public Health statistics shows then country’s incidence of cancer-related mortality is among the highest in the Caribbean. According to the data, Guyana ranks highest with an incidence rate of 46.9 percent and a mortality rate of 21.0 per 100,000 persons.
Last weekend’s concert which was sponsored by the Adolescent Health Unit, focused on cervical cancer which kills some 100 Guyanese women annually, making it the leading cause of cancer deaths among local women.

By contrast globally, there are some 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually killing a little over half its victims.

Guyana is among a handful of Caribbean countries, which also include Barbados, Bahamas Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, that offers free HPV vaccines to help in the war against cervical cancer.

Late last month, Public Health Minister, Mrs Volda Lawrence announced that the government has made available the HPV vaccine for boys also.

The vaccination provides safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that infects adolescent and adults. Internationally, about 14 million people, including adolescents, become infected with HPV each year. The infection can cause cervical (mouth of the womb in girls/ women), vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. HPV can also cause anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in both boys and girls.

“We should recognise the value of these services being offered to our children not just at clinics but by health workers who are taking the vaccines into the schools to ensure your children (boys and girls) 16 years of age and under get this protection”, Dr Campbell said during her feature address at the concert.

She cautioned against the consumption of excessive sugary foods and beverages noting that they are known to be a powerful inflammatory agents that can eventually lead to intestinal cancers, obesity, insulin resistance and eventually, diabetes.

The concert featured a number of local artistes from the mining town in Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Berbice). Regma Primary won the HPV Jingle and Song competition followed by New Silvercity Secondary.

Ministry of Public Health’s School Health Officer, Dr. Faqueeda Watson-Jones expressed concern about the poor vaccination rate in the community especially the HPV Vaccination.

“Reports were made that a few Head Teachers from various schools in Linden have refused to allow health workers into schools to due to lack of knowledge on the HPV vaccine, hence the awareness concert was held to sensitise all citizens of Linden about HPV and other killer diseases such as prostate and breast cancers,”, Dr. Watson said.

The various cultural items encouraged the audience to adopt healthier lifestyles and share information on cancer-prevention with their co-workers, family and friends.