IF the Ministry of Health cannot attract local doctors to the public health sector and the Couva Children’s Hospital, it plans to ask Cuban doctors to fill the gap.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said about six weeks ago he went to Cuba and “put out the word” that the country wanted paediatric cardiologists and pediatricians to work at the Children’s Hospital and further reduce the infant mortality rate. He repeated that an operator, Interhealth Canada, was identified and would manage the facility with the University of the West Indies.
Deyalsingh was speaking to members of the media on Saturday after the launch of the North Central Regional Health Authority’s (NCRHA) Great Pap Smear Initiative at the Eric Williams Medical Science Centre Women’s Health Centre in Mt Hope. There, over 400 women showed up to get free pap smears and take charge of their health.
Deyalsingh described it as a “glorious day” in the culture of the health care system as the NCRHA kept moving from treatment to prevention. “All of this has to do with our non-communicable diseases plan or NCD plan where the top five cancers are being tackled. For men, prostate and lung; for women, cervical, breast cancer and also colorectal cancer.”
He said cervical cancer was mostly caught by doctors in women between ages 40 and 60. “Unfortunately these are women in the prime of their lives...And when we catch you at stages II and III, it means your outcome is not as good as if we catch you early on. So this is what we are doing this morning.”
He said the initiative gave women greater access to free health care and hoped it would change how women see their health and become more proactive.
This hope was bolstered as the RHA targeted 150 women but over 400 participated.
Deyalsingh said cervical cancer was the second most common cancer in women and had the highest mortality rate. Therefore, if any of the participants were tested positive, the doctors would catch it earlier, treat it earlier with less invasive methods, and they could live a longer, healthier life.
The initiative was designed to encourage women to get tested and bring awareness to the service available at the Women’s Health Centre where a highly qualified female team would care for them.
It is a walk-in service, Monday to Friday from 7am-2pm, and the entire procedure is expected to take less than 30 minutes, including the analysis of the sample. The pharmacy was also open for patients to immediately access medication if necessary.