Jamaica improves in cervical cancer prevention and control – Bisasor-McKenzie

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie says that Jamaica has made notable progress in the effort to meet the targets in the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Plan of Action for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control 2018-2030.

Speaking at the PAHO Executive Committee Meeting recently, she said the country’s efforts include the development of a National Plan for Cervical Cancer Elimination and the implementation of screening guidelines for cervical cancer.

“The National Screening Guidelines for Priority Non-communicable Diseases in Primary Care in Jamaica was published in 2020. It includes guidelines for cervical cancer screening in the 21 to 64 years target group and recommendations for screening via pap smears or human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for women 30 to 64 years of age.” The guidelines have been implemented in only one hospital so far.

She added that two radiotherapy treatment centres were established on the island and that the government has ensured access to essential medications, provided free of cost to public-sector clients through the National Health Fund, were increased.

“Treatment services will be provided in more hospitals; promoting early treatment and laboratory capacity for processing samples will be increased,” Bisasor-McKenzie noted.

Palliative care—caring for patients who are terminally ill—will also be added to the services offered at health centres island-wide.

She told the meeting that Jamaica is still collecting data on the prevalence of cancer in the country and that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the implementation of an action plan.

PAHOs goal is to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in the region by reducing the incidence and mortality rates by one-third, over the next eight years.

On behalf of the government, Bisasor-McKenzie made a commitment to “reorient, re-strategize, prioritize and implement impactful evidence-based interventions tailored to the local context, toward the achievement of cervical cancer elimination.”

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