Guyana rolls out massive fight against cervical cancer

Last Updated on Friday, 12 April 2024, 22:05 by Writer

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony addressing the National Launch of the Global Strategy for Cervical Cancer Elimination

Guyana on Friday launched the Global Strategy for Cervical Cancer Elimination, saying with officials saying that the country has embarked on a countrywide campaign to vaccinate persons against the human papilloma virus (HPV) and screen persons for cancer caused by that virus.

With Guyana currently having 40 percent HPV vaccine coverage, Director of the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Programme, Dr Ertensia Hamilton said the plan is to target schools and health care facilities to ensure that girls 9 to 15 years and 16 to 45 years are vaccinated. Officials said home testing kits would be provided free of cost to allow persons to return with the samples. Males are also vulnerable to HPV.

The country is investing GY$25 million for reagents for the first 30,000 tests and GY$174 million for vaccines. health minister Dr Frank Anthony said government was aiming to achieve 70 percent screening and 90 percent treatment for cervical cancer. He explained that early screening would detect abnormal cells and facilitate early treatment.

He said the National Reference Laboratory is equipped to process 100,000 tests monthly in addition to three small machines in a number of regions for them to do their own testing.

Dr Anthony said Guyana was preparing to ask the New York-headquartered Mount Sinai Health System to design a brachytherapy radiation unit, the types of equipment and “once we get that those types of information, we will put that in motion.” He remarked that persons who need brachytherapy have to travel to Suriname or Trinidad so “we want to make sure that that service is offered right here.”

Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent type of the dreaded disease in Guyana, after breast cancer.

The Health Minister said government plans to assess the impact of the strategy in one or two years to ascertain whether the number of cervical cancer cases was dropping and the vaccine and screening coverage is increasing.

Education Minister, Priya Manickchand urged parents to make the wise decision and do not fall prey to pushback by those who are against being vaccinated. “It is available and it is free and we’re begging you to take it,” she said government would have to find ways of educating rather than forcing people to be HPV vaccinated.