Free pap smears for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

DPI, Guyana, Monday, January 15, 2018

January is designated Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and President of the Guyana Cancer Foundation (GCF), Bibi Hassan is making a special appeal to women 21 years and older to have their pap smears done, since ‘early detection saves lives.’

To create awareness the Foundation is hosting its annual ‘Wear it Teal Friday’ event on Friday, January 19, 2018. Persons are asked to support the initiative by wearing the colour teal on that day to show support to cervical cancer survivors.

Hassan, through the GCF, has been providing free pap smears to hundreds of women in Guyana who fall into the low-income bracket. Pap smears will be offered this Saturday, January 20, at the Giftland Mall.

The Pap test can detect abnormal cells that may develop into cancer if left untreated. It is recommended every 3 years for women ages 21-29. Women ages 30-65 years are advised to have the smear every three years or the Pap test in addition to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test every five years.

In Guyana, steps are being taken to reduce the prevalence of Cervical cancer cases. The National (HPV) vaccination campaign was launched on October 15, 2017, in Bartica, Region Seven.

Junior Minister of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings said the campaign forms part of the Ministry’s plan to arrest the number of cervical cancer cases. The campaign targets girls – 9 to 16 years of age, with the end goal being ninety percent coverage of the target population.

According to global research, girls and boys have the best protection from HPV when they receive all doses of the vaccine as recommended before they are exposed to HPV.

Locally, young girls in the targeted population will need to take two doses of the vaccines which will take effect in about 10 to 20 years when they are adult women. The Vaccination campaign is conducted under the purview of the Maternal and Child Health Department of the Ministry.

Guyana will look to vaccinate boys in the future; however, it aims to immunize the girls with hopes to protect boys as well. The vaccines can be attained through the school programmes as well as local health centres across the regions.

The HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer among girls in Guyana, arrived here in 2011 and was officially launched by the then Ministry of Health in 2012. It was relaunched again in 2016 under the present Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with Merck Sharp and Dhome (MSD).

In addition, for this month, the Guyana Cancer Institute is also administering free Pap smears.

The Pap smear is done seven days after a woman’s menstrual cycle and the individual desirous of having it done must abstain from sexual intercourse three days prior.

The use of tampons is discouraged before the appointment.  Persons desirous of taking advantage of this offer are asked to make an appointment on telephone number 225-5701 and 225-5703.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

 

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