In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Ministry of Health’s Chronic Disease Unit, on Thursday Oct 6 hosted a Cancer Health Fair at Main Street, Georgetown to raise awareness on breast cancer and to offer screening for cancer to the general public.
During his brief remarks at the opening of the event, Advisor to the Minister of Health and Chairman of the Non-Communicable Diseases Commission, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that in Guyana, there’s a growing number of survivors of breast cancer despite our mortality rate.
“When I first joined the Ministry of Health (MOH), the mortality rate for breast cancer was higher than the global average mortality rate hence few persons survived to live beyond the life expectancy in this country because breast cancer and other cancers cause premature deaths. Today we still have premature deaths from breast cancer and other cancers but the number of survivors keeps increasing.” – he explained
He further emphasised the need for more education to be done, especially in the school system, to help raise awareness of breast cancer and other cancers.
Additionally, Dr Ramsammy stated that there is a need for the promotion of self-examination for cancer in the breast.
Dr. Ramsammy also mentioned that the Ministry is collaborating with Mount Sinai and other partners in order to upgrade and provide the health care system with a higher level of service when it comes to intervention and implementation of radiotherapy, chemotherapy programs and oncology centres in Guyana. With this initiative, the survival rate for breast cancer and other cancer is expected to increase tremendously.
The Health Advisor disclosed that very soon the MOH will be commissioning the same Chemotherapy Centre at New Amsterdam, Berbice Region 6.
Meanwhile, Technical Officer on Cancers within the Chronic Disease Dr Martin Campbell in his brief remarks reminded us that cancer is a leading cause of death in Guyana thus it is paramount that Guyanese understand the risk factors associated with cancers and other non-communicable diseases.
“ If you avoid the consumption the large amounts of alcohol, avoid smoking, eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, it can help to reduce the risk of cancer by 40%”, Campbell stressed.
Director of the MOH Disease Control- Non-Communicable Diseases Programme, Dr Latchmie Lall stated that the Ministry will continue to advocate for the prevention of breast cancer and invest in medications and technologies to combat breast cancers. She also encouraged all present to take the extra step of taking someone to the closest health centre to be screened for cancer.
According to Dr Lall, the National Cancer Control and Prevention Plan will be rolled out shortly. This plan will see healthcare workers being guided to help in the fight of eradicating cancer.
Officials that were present at yesterday’s proceeding were Dr Dianelle Drepaul, Coordinator of the Chronic Disease Unit, along with representatives from the Beacon Foundation the Guyana Cancer Society, the Guyana Cancer Foundation, Giving hope Foundation, Periwinkle Cancer Club, Georgetown Public Hospital Radiology, Food policy blood bank staff from Primary Health care Services (Women’s Health and Maternal, Adolescent Health and Child Health department).