Caribbean Medics Trained in Colposcopy at UWI, Mona


Ten Caribbean obstetricians and gynaecologists received training in the diagnosis of pre-cancerous and cancerous legions in women, through a colposcopy course at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus, Kingston, this week.
Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope, which shines a light on the vagina and the cervix. It is done when a Pap test result shows abnormal changes in the cell of the cervix. The process provides more information about the abnormal cells.
The week-long training course, June 15- 19, involved doctors from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis.
The workshop was financed by a US$250,000 grant from the Government of Spain, under the CARICOM/Spain Cooperation Project on Support for the Prevention and Control of Cervical Cancer in the CARICOM Region. The funds are administered by the CARICOM Secretariat and it is a multi-phased project aimed at early detection and treatment of cervical cancer.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the workshop at the UWI’s Mona Visitors’ Lodge, Friday (June 19), Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell- Forrester, noted that the training is timely as it seeks to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases, including cancer.
“Colposcopy is considered the gold standard in many developed countries, for diagnosing cervical abnormalities that may be suspected after a Pap smear is done,” she said.
She noted that training is critical within the sector, and coincides with the continued global focus of equipping workers with the knowledge and skills they need to ensure the best patient care and outcomes in using the latest technology within the field.
“We are attacking cervical cancer on all fronts,” she said. She added that, later this year, the Ministry will be undertaking a major study on cancer of the cervix and how the cervical system can be strengthened.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester noted that although the procedure is expensive, the abolition of user fees at public health institutions will help individuals to access the service.
She lauded the CARICOM Secretariat for securing funding for regional activities, at a time when many initiatives are being eliminated because of a lack of financing.
“We are happy that health, in particular a drive to reduce the effects of cancer in women, is still at the top of the agenda in the region and the world,” she added.
The CMO thanked the Government of Spain for their contribution, and for providing the financing to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and equipment to be used in the sector.
Under the project, participating countries will receive a brand new colposcope machine. This is critical for optimal treatment and care of these patients. She noted that the project signifies the need for a unified effort to fight the disease and encouraged the taking of Pap smears.
Chairman of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Earl Jarrett, noted that the collaborative effort between the stakeholders, signalled a historic event and an opportunity to improve the lifestyles and life opportunities of many persons within the region.
He said that this will impact positively on the United Nations’ millennium development goals in each participating country.
Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Spain, Marta Mendez Diaz, noted that the “health of the region is the wealth of the region.” She urged the participants to use the knowledge from the workshop to benefit their respective countries in the fight against cervical cancer, the second leading form of cancer among Jamaican women.
The second training course is slated to be held in Trinidad and Tobago, June 22-26 and will involve doctors from Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The course was organised by CARICOM, the UWI and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development.

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