Public Health Minister calls for earlier screening to detect and treat cancers – Hundreds sensitised on cervical, other cancers

MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH, GEORGETOWN – Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence wants earlier screening of Guyanese to help reduce deaths from cancers in the country.

Globally, there are some 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer detected annually which kills approximately 266,000 women or 50.2 per cent.

In the Caribbean, Guyana ranks highest with an incidence rate of 46.9 per cent and a mortality rate of 21.0 per 100,000 persons. Cervical cancer kills an estimated 100 Guyanese women every year, making it the leading cause of cancer mortality among Guyanese women. Some 33 per cent of these deaths are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity and using tobacco and alcohol.

Minister Lawrence is worried that if this trend continues generations of Guyanese will grow up not knowing close family members.

“I not only have a message to the women but I have a message to the men also. Your family needs you and they need you in the best of health and we want you to be able to around for your grandchildren and great grandchildren and if possible great, great grandchildren”, she told visitors at the Giftland Mall, Turkeyen.

The World Health Organisation/Pan Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO) in a 2012 report said cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally with approximately 14 million new cases.

During this year’s observance of World Cancer Day, the Ministry of Public Health collaborated with a number of Non Government Organiaations (NGOs) and the private sector to host cervical cancer screening using the  Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid (VIA)  method and sensitisation sessions. Cervical cancer, a cancer arising from the cervix, is linked to several risk factors, mainly the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), chlamydia infection, early sexual activity, and multiple sexual partners.

Recently, a team from the Ministry of Public Health conducted medical outreaches in Orealla, Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne); Kabacaburi, Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Sophia, Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica).

Some 67 women had their VIA done; five were detected with cancerous lesions. They were treated and rescheduled for follow-up examination in two years.  Medical outreaches were also rolled out at the Periwinkle Club, Alberttown, Georgetown, with over 45 persons benefiting from VIA screening, blood pressure and random blood Sugar testing. The medical team took to Giftland Mall and Bounty Supermarkets over the weekend where hundreds of persons traversing the mall and supermarkets were handed brochures and flyers and were educated on the various types of cancers. The weekend sessions were done in collaboration with Giving Hope Foundation.

The Ministry of Public Health is currently fine tuning a comprehensive cancer prevention and control programme for the country. This will aid in ensuring that common risk factors for cancers, such as tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets are addressed.

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