Health Minister envisions countrywide access to cancer screening

– Plans for HPV for girls and boys

DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 22, 2018

As Cancer Awareness Month continues, Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence has outlined her vision to fight the most prevalent cancers in Guyana.

Topping the list are breast and cervical cancer. Firstly, she said that she wishes to see all women in Guyana have access to mammography services.

“I would like to ensure as far as possible in every region that women have access to free mammography services, I would like a mammography machine in every region or in every sub-region of this country so that we can be able to provide that for our women actually those that cannot afford it.”

Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health

Secondly, she indicated that in the near future she would like to see the establishment of a specialised cancer treatment centre. Essentially, it was explained that cancer patients need a separate environment from that of regular patients to go through treatment and recover.

Also, this centre will have the requisite staff who can provide the necessary support to those who are battling cancer; whether men or women. “You want to go to a place where people understand your situation and are trained to administer those services to you as soon as you walk through the door. You must be able to feel that you are in the right place.”

Speaking specifically to preventing cervical cancer, the minister also envisions that the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine will be made available to both teenaged boys and girls. Currently, the vaccine is only provided to girls between the ages of 9 to 13 years of age.

The minister underscored that such plans can be made a reality once adequate financing is provided by the government.

Taking the position as an advocate against cancers, Minister Lawrence, who calls herself a cancer warrior said that the disease can go undetected for many years but all it takes is a timely visit to a doctor to know one’s status and tackle the disease early.

“I want every woman in this country at the age of 45 or 50, to know every year they must ensure and have their tests done. They must also know if they are sexually active, they must have a pap smear done,” the Health Minister underscored.

By: Delicia Haynes

Images: Anil Seelall