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Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging all Jamaicans to get regular health checks to facilitate early detection of diseases that may lay dormant in the body.

“Do your health checks regularly, Jamaicans tend to go to the doctor only when they are sick, but taking responsibility means that at least once per year, you owe it to yourself to go to your physician for a check-up,” the Minister said.

Dr. Tufton was speaking at the Ministry of Health’s Take Responsibility Tour forum, which was held at the Ocho Rios High School in St. Ann on November 1.

“Let the doctors examine you, so they can detect signs and symptoms which may indicate whether trouble is up ahead, or you have a clean bill of health,” Minister Tufton added. 

Some of the topics covered at the forum included non-communicable diseases and sexual health, with specific focus on cervical cancer.

For his part, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at the Ruthven Medical Centre in Kingston, Dr. Michael Abrahams, informed that all women are at risk to develop cervical cancer, except for those who have had a hysterectomy.

 “Once you have a cervix you are at risk for cervical cancer, but some women carry a greater risk than others. For example, women who begin sexual activity in their early teen years [and] women who have had several sexual partners or children, have an increased risk,” Dr. Abrahams said.

“But even if a woman has only had one partner or has no children, if the person she is having intercourse with has had a lot of partners, her risk for cervical cancer is heightened,” he added.

The Gynaecologist also pointed out that most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“Some types of HPV are more serious than others, and those are the ones that cause cervical cancer, 70 per cent of the cases are caused by a type called HPV 16,” Dr. Abrahams stated.

He also informed that the HPV also causes 95 per cent of all anal cancer cases, 70 per cent of throat cancers, 60 per cent of vaginal cancer, 60 per cent of vulvar cancer and 30 percent of penis cancer. 

To learn more about HPV, citizens are encouraged to call the Ministry of Health’s toll-free line 1-888-ONE LOVE or 1-888-663-5683 to clarify concerns, or email the Ministry at hpvinfo@moh.gov.jm. Additional information is available at www.moh.gov.jm.

The Take Responsibility Tour, which will make stops islandwide, is geared towards encouraging Jamaicans to pay more attention to their health.