Gov’t investing in tackling cervical, breast cancer – Min. Anthony

This year, the government will be taking an increasingly targeted approach to tackling breast and cervical cancer in Guyana.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, told the National Assembly on Day Four of the 2024 budget debates at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Thursday, that breast and cervical cancer are the most prevalent cancers among women, and as such, the government has taken measures to put prevention on the front burner.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony

“We must also be able to detect it and then treat these diseases. The PPP government has set a goal to meet the World Health Organisation’s targets by 2030 regarding cervical cancer. The goal includes the following targets; 90% of our girls should receive full HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine by the time they reach 15 years of age. The next target is 70% of our women should undergo a high-performance screening test by the time they reach 35, and again by 45 years of age. The third target is that 90% of individuals who are diagnosed with cervical cancer should receive appropriate treatment,” he explained.

As a result, the government will undergo an aggressive vaccination campaign to prevent the disease.

This year, 41,539 girls between the ages of nine and 15 will be targeted to ensure that they get the HPV vaccine, while 62,500 women between the ages of 16 and 25 will be offered two doses of the vaccine.

“And for those who are older, between 26 and 45, where we estimate that there are about 94,000 women, we want to offer them three doses of this vaccine so that we can prevent cervical cancer,” the health minister said.

Budget 2024 also contains provisions for 52,000 women to benefit from pap smears and HPV tests.

“In addition to all of this, if a woman is diagnosed with cancer during this screening process, we will provide a range of treatment options depending on the stage of the cancer. Treatment options range from cryotherapy to surgery, and we will be working to ensure that we can introduce brachytherapy services in Guyana right now,” Dr Anthony said.

The government is confident that these measures will assist in reducing the rates of cervical cancer in Guyana.

Minister Anthony added that the budget also has provisions to offer more mammograms, and the government aims to introduce three more mammogram machines at New Amsterdam, Linden and West Demerara.

“We would also be offering family planning assistance to more than 16,000 women across this country. And for women who need care packages, pregnant women who need care packages. We have budgeted to provide care packages for at least 3000 women who need them,” he noted.