Health ministry boosts public education on cervical cancerTuesday, April 13, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — With cervical cancer being the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women 30 to 50 years old, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is enhancing its public awareness efforts for Cervical Cancer Prevention.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when cells change in a woman's cervix and become malignant.
The ministry, through its Non-Communicable Disease and Injury Prevention Unit, said it is seizing the opportunity to commemorate Cervical Cancer Awareness month this April by embarking on a series of activities to highlight risk factors, debunk myths, and discuss the role of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in accordance with the recommended age guidelines for girls nine to 14 years of age.
The ministry also reminded the public, and women and girls in particular, that prevention, coupled with screening, can eliminate cervical cancer in Jamaica. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when cells change in a woman's cervix and become malignant.
Consultant OBGYN, Dr Michael Abrahams explained that, “Cervical cancer is a slow forming disease which can take an average of 11 years to present itself. Therefore, there's usually time to find and treat it before it causes serious problems. This is exactly why it is so important for women to do their regular pap smears and HPV tests, as well as for girls between the ages of nine and 14 years to be given the vaccine.”
According to Dr Nicola Skyers, acting director of the Non-Communicable Disease and Injury Prevention Unit, “Too often our population buys more into misconceptions and myths around health issues, which can be quite debilitating and unfortunately even cost their very lives.”
The ministry said it is re-educating the population as the Non-Communicable Disease & Injury Prevention Unit recognises that they are grappling with some who believe that cervical cancer cannot be cured or that only women who have been promiscuous will contract the HPV that causes cervical cancer.
It noted that there are also those who believe that older women are not susceptible to the disease.
Despite the effectiveness and availability of the HPV vaccine, HPV remains the most common sexually transmitted infection and it is women between the ages of 30 and 50 years who are most likely to get it, especially those who haven't been getting regular screenings, the ministry said.
“These results further support the importance of both the strength of physician recommendation and our current thrust toward improving public education about the vaccine,” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton.
Some of the activities which the ministry is undertaking to improve public education include a Facebook Live discussion hosted by Minister of State Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn and special guest Dr Michael Abrahams, set for tomorrow at 7:30 pm.
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