VIA Screening Unit initiated at Anna Regina Health Centre

─ to be principal site for access to VIA service in the region

─ targeting approximately 6,000 women at risk

─ Ministry of Public Health steps towards safeguarding women’s health

─ 103,335 women countrywide at risk

DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 1, 2019

Women between the ages of 25-49 years of age, living in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region (Region Two) now have easier access to services related to their health. This comes in the form of the establishment of a Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) clinic at the Anna Regina Health Centre.

According to health officials attending the formal opening ceremony of the clinic, this is a much-needed service within the region.

Coordinator of the VIA programme at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Martin Campbell said this service is part of the ministry fulfilling a part of its cervical cancer prevention strategy.

“Cervical cancer, unlike many other cancers, provides us with the golden opportunity of prevention. It’s generally slow progressing nature from proven caused the human papillomavirus makes cervical cancer almost 100 percent preventable through vaccination for HPV and effective screening for early detection.”

He added that based on research, it was found that women in the region were not accessing such a critical service which is key in early cervical cancer detection.

“Out of thousands of women that are eligible for VIA, only a handful, a meagre 250 access VIA screening in the region every year. It is envisioned that the Anna Regina VIA clinic with its central location, accessibility and competent, enthusiastic staff will become the principal site of access to VIA providing quality and client-centred services to women.”

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, who travelled to the clinic to deliver remarks, encouraged women in Region Two to take advantage of the service. She provided statistics which set the tone in highlighting the importance of the VIA clinic and why women must be screened.

“In concrete terms, we are targeting some 5,735 women,” Minister Lawrence said adding that “we at the Ministry of Public Health are not doing things in abstract, we are working to find that approximately 6000 women in your region. We are looking for them, we want to reach you and address the issue and to stop it from happening.”

She added that there are approximately 103,335 women within the age range for VIA, at risk for cervical cancer. This means that those with responsibility for managing and controlling chronic diseases within the ministry must be active in tackling these numbers.

In the world today, there is an upscale in the percentage of women folk succumbing to cancer nearly daily. The minister said that women represent more than half of the local population; hence the reason why the health and wellness of women must be safeguarded.

Stressing the importance of the VIA among other keys to prevent cervical cancer were highlighted. Health officials who spoke at the event said to protect younger girls and even boys from the Human Papilloma Virus which causes Cervical and other cancers; there is a free vaccine being issued to younger teenagers (ages 9 to 13 years).

Also, in attendance were Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, Coordinator of the Non-Communicable Diseases unit at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kavita Singh and regional officials including the Regional Executive Officer, Denis Jaikaran.

Delicia Haynes

Images: Ameer Sattaur