MOPH committed to preventative measures against cervical cancer.
DPI, Guyana, Sunday, February 04, 2018
Under the theme “Early detection saves lives”, the Ministry of Public Health today facilitated a cervical cancer awareness walk in Georgetown. In her address to the gathering, Minister within Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings stated that astoundingly only four percent of all Guyanese cases of Cervical Cancer was diagnosed in Stage One while the majority of cervical cases are diagnosed in Stage Four which contributes to a high annual mortality rate.
Cervical cancer is caused by sexually acquired infection with certain types of HPV. Two HPV types (16 and 18), cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions. HPV remains the most commonly transmitted STD in both males and females. Therefore, it is essential that work continues to be done to increase knowledge about HPV and the HPV vaccine.
Senior Medex, Sarah Daniels told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the Ministry is taking three main steps to curtail cervical cancer. VIA testing (visual inspection with acetic acid) which is done in one minute and is recommended for persons up to 49 years of age, Pap smear (Papanicolaou smear) for women 50 and over and HPV vaccines geared at young girls.
Guyana was one of the first countries to pilot the HPV vaccination program. The vaccine, Gardasil, was administered to girls aged 11 to 13. The evaluation of the pilot vaccination programme revealed high uptake for the first dose of the HPV vaccine. The administration of the HPV vaccine to girls is part of a comprehensive plan developed by the Ministry of Public Health to reduce the mortality of cervical cancer. The Ministry has a goal to achieve at least 95 percent vaccination coverage of the total target population.
Dr. Cummings said “Every woman needs to know how to reduce her risk of cervical cancer. Women must be educated about the symptoms of cervical cancer and seek medical advice…women must know where to find support and further information.”
In 2014 the MOPH assessed cancers that occurred in Guyana over a 10-year period. The data obtained was similar to the results presented by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The findings show that, in Guyana, cervical cancer was the second most common cancer among women. According to the data obtained, Minister Cummings explained that the average incidence of cervical cancer is 46.9 per 100,000 women and that the highest incidence rate is found among Afro-Guyanese women. The highest percentage of cases occurred in the 15-39-year range.
The HPV vaccine does not replace screening for cervical cancer, the Minister noted that it is imperative that girls and young women be educated in engaging in safe sexual practices and about potential risk factors for cervical cancer.
VIA’s are available in all administrative regions except Region 8. However, preparations are underway for a facility to be made available before the end of this year. VIA testing is available in Region One at Mabaruma Hospital, Region Two at Charity and Suddie Hospital, Region Three at West Demerara Regional Hospital and Leonora Cottage Hospital, Region Four at Georgetown Public Hospital, Campbellville health Centre, Dorothy Bailey Health Centre and the National Care and Treatment Centre (NCTC), Region Five at Mahaicony Hospital, Region Six at Skeldon Hospital and New Amsterdam Regional Hospital, Region Seven at Bartica Regional Hospital, Region Nine at Lethem Hospital and Region 10 at Linden Hospital and Wismar Hospital.
By: Nateshia Isaacs