Health Ministry to Promote More Screenings for Cervical Cancer


The Ministry of Health will be increasing its drive to promote more screenings for cervical cancer during the month of September.
Under the Cervical Cancer Programme, which was initially launched in April (Cancer Month), the Ministry has been targeting women in the age group 25 to 54 years, who have never had a pap smear, the test used to screen for evidence of cervical cancer.
It is estimated that within this target group, more than 25 per cent have yet to take a pap smear and, the programme, which is essentially on-going, seeks to reduce this percentage. Violet Griffith, Manager for the Cervical Cancer Programme at the Ministry of Health told JIS News that the Ministry was launching its second drive in September to build on the momentum gained from the launch in April.
Preliminary observations from the data currently being collated by the Ministry from the initial April drive indicate a significant improvement in the number of women stepping forward to be screened for the disease.
The goal of the programme, Miss Griffith said, was to save as many women as possible from dying from a disease that was preventable. At this point in time, cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in Jamaica, and second only to breast cancer.
“The cancer is preventable and most times curable if caught and treated early,” the Manager stressed. “We are well equipped in Jamaica. There is no reason for a woman to die from cervical cancer, so what we want to focus on is prevention, and we are putting all efforts into this because, this is the one cancer we know can be prevented,” she added.
As part of the effort to organize an effective programme for screening, the Ministry has been giving support to all the parishes to develop their own programmes. “We have also been procuring some basic supplies to help them to reach the women in all areas,” the Manager informed, adding that some parishes required more assistance than others given the number of women.
The programme will also reach those women who live in deep rural areas. The co-ordinators in the parishes have organized to take the programme to them.
Acknowledging that the Ministry could not carry out the programme solely, Miss Griffith said that the Ministry had cemented collaborations with various agencies and organizations such as the Jamaica Cancer Society and church groups, in addition to business establishments.
“The Ministry has been relying on women’s organizations, hairdressers, barbers, taxi drivers. anywhere we can post the information or leave literature with them that they can hand out to women with whom they come in contact. We are also asking the doctors, the pharmacists and the labs to help with this programmme,” she pointed out.
The most recent data indicate that an estimated 466,000 new cases of cervical cancer occur among women worldwide, with the vast majority of the cases in developing countries.
Approximately 231,000 women die of cervical cancer each year, of which 80 per cent are from developing nations. Locally, over 170 women die each year from the disease.

JIS Social