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  • Jamaicans are being encouraged to participate in the first ever worldwide staging of the ‘Million Woman March for Endometriosis’ on Thursday, March 13, 2014.
  • The march is aimed at bringing awareness of the debilitating disease and lend support to those afflicted by it.
  • The march is an internationally co-ordinated awareness campaign that will take place in more than 53 cities around the world.

Jamaicans are being encouraged to participate in the first ever worldwide staging of the ‘Million Woman March for Endometriosis’ on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

This call came from wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Allen, in a speech read by Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller, during the media launch of the event on February 25, at the Terra Nova All-Suites hotel in St. Andrew.

She said that the march is aimed at bringing awareness of the debilitating disease and lend support to those afflicted by it.

“I am making an appeal to companies, organisations and individuals, who would like to be a part of this historical March, to come on board. We need your support in order to bring light and hope to those who are suffering,” she said.

The march is an internationally co-ordinated awareness campaign that will take place in more than 53 cities around the world, including Kingston. It aims to raise awareness about endometriosis, which is the abnormal growth of cells (endometrial cells) similar to those that form the inside or lining the tissue of the uterus, but in a location outside of the uterus.

Noting that this common disease affects at least one in 10 women and girls, sometimes unknowingly, Lady Allen stressed that every female needs to understand the illness in order to make sure that they are diagnosed early.

“Endometriosis is a silent disease like hypertension. Ultimately, by the time correct diagnosis is found, the damage is irreparable,” she said, adding that every woman and child should have the right to a fast and early diagnosis.

One of the top 10 most painful diseases, endometriosis is a common illness, affecting 176 million women worldwide. Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for six to 10 years from the initial symptoms because the pain may be mistaken for normal menstrual cramping and it can mimic other diseases. As a result, preteens and teenagers have particularly high rates of misdiagnosis.

If not detected and treated properly, endometriosis can be a serious, painful and debilitating disease with severe medical consequences. The disease can damage the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is also benign and has features similar to some cancers. It can spread, invade and cause damage to many organs beyond the reproductive system. Currently, there is no known cure for endometriosis.

Possible signs of endometriosis are: intermittent and/or chronic pelvic pain; bowel or urinary disorders; gastrointestinal and urinary tract distress; painful menstruation; autoimmune-related disorders; rectal pain; painful intercourse; severe cramps lasting more than one to two days; infertility and pregnancy loss.

The March will also support the 100,000 young girls and women in Jamaica suffering from endometriosis. Leading the local leg of the event is organiser, Shauna Fuller Clarke, who is affected by the condition and is Co-Founder of the Shauna Fuller Clarke’s B.A.S.E. Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation established to create better awareness and support to women with endometriosis.

Mrs. Fuller Clarke noted that in addition to the broad goals of simply raising awareness through the event, there is an intention to launch a prescreening programme for girls and women in Jamaica, similar to how girls are screened in the United States for scoliosis.

“We will be rallying for endometriosis to be included as a chronic disease with the National Health Fund, and that there can be some funding allocated research and awareness campaigns for chronic pelvic conditions,” she said, noting that the number of persons with endometriosis is greater than the combined number of persons with breast cancer, diabetes (type I and II) and AIDS.

Another goal, Mrs. Fuller Clarke pointed out, is to ask medical researchers to help find cures and develop non-invasive tests, noting that more focus must be given in the country’s medical and nursing schools to educating medical and health professionals.

It is anticipated that participants from all parishes including schools, churches, service clubs and the corporate community will be involved in the event.

On March 13, persons will converge at Devon House and walk to Emancipation Park via Trafalgar Road and Knutsford Boulevard. A rally will be held in the park, where invited guests will speak on the importance of women’s health, highlighting chronic pelvic diseases. The event will include entertainment by special guest artistes.

Persons can register for the event at www.basejamaica.com. Participants are also being encouraged to wear yellow, which is the awareness colour for endometriosis.

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