Women were urged to take advantage of the free screenings for cervical cancer and breast cancer once they meet the criteria and to get the human papillomavirus vaccines HPV vaccine at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital on Saturday.
This Great Pap Smear Initiative was hosted by the Ministry of Health and North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA). These entities have now joined forces with the Spouses of Caricom Leaders Action Network (SCLAN).
Sharon Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister, said members of the network are tasked with finding ways to improve the lives of women and children in the Caribbean. She said she chose to promote the elimination of cervical cancer and domestic violence in TT.
“Cervical cancer after breast cancer in TT is one of the most diagnosed forms of cancer, but it is one which is treatable. It is not just a screening alone, screening will detect the disease, but we are moving towards the elimination of the disease.”
She said it is an area that needs to be concentrated on since it’s not just a medical diagnosis, as there are many emotional aspects to this diagnosis as well. Rowley said women will have to deal with being diagnosed, undergo treatment and confront the emotions of their families.
She added, “In addition to the Great Pap Smear Initiative, we are actually going to be launching a rural initiative whereby the NCRHA is going to be going out to rural communities to deal with and treat women who are unable to come into Mt Hope or go to their private practitioners to have themselves screened.”
Rowley said the NCRHA will be aligning itself with village councils and other representatives in the areas to set up the mobile unit to treat women and improve the lives of people in rural areas.
CEO of NCRHA Davlin Thomas said “The more things that we engage at the early stage will determine for us that in the long run you won’t end up being in a state where we have to keep you in the hospital or do operations and so on. That's really the philosophy of this.”
He added that the initiative would serve as a way of getting people to view pap smears as being a positive thing. Thomas said it’s important that the technology available in the country is used.
“In particular, we have something called a colposcope here and what we call loop diathermy machine. If we discover very early, we will do the lab tests to determine whether or not there's a threat. Then after that, we simply go back in with a colposcope and then we engage the polyps.”
He said this will help doctors decide on what’s next for the patient and to determine if another check is needed after a year.
Thomas said the NCRHA catered for at least 600 people on Saturday. Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said out of 500 women who attended in 2021, the initiative helped around ten women who needed further examination.
He urged people to get tested and said, "The top five cancers in TT for mortality are lung, breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate. Those are the top five that we are after."