Deyalsingh: Cervical cancer can be prevented

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Sandra Arthur – Photo by Lincoln Holder

MATERNAL mortality, the biggest issue facing women’s health, where one mother dies in childbirth almost every month, has largely been eradicated in TT.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said in the last year, not one mother died in childbirth. However, he said one of the biggest issues now challenging the health sector is that one woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer every three days and one woman dies every five days from this cancer.

What is frightening, Deyalsingh said, is that this form of cancer, the fourth behind breast, uterine and colorectal cancers, and cervical cancer is preventative.

“We can prevent that,” Deyalsingh told a gathering of women at the San Fernando General Hospital at an International Women’s Day celebration on Saturday. Pap smears, screening for breast cancers and other medical services were offered.

He said over past 10 years, 168,636 HPV vaccines were administered to women and girls, which can reduce the risk for almost 90 per cent of them.

Dr Sandra Arthur explained that girls from as young as nine to adult women, up to age 26, should be encouraged to get the HPV vaccine to reduce the risk to exposure as it is associated with sexual encounters, including oral sex.

She said boys can also be vaccinated with the HPV vaccines as it prevents cancers not only of the vagina, but penal as well.

Deyalsingh said while pap smears indicate one is pre-cancerous, what the government is presently doing is procuring an HPV analyser which can catch the signs before the pap smear indicates the pre-cancerous stage.

SWRHA CEO Dr Brian Armour said women ‘rock the world,’ taking care of everything and everyone, but reminded that they need to take care of themselves as well.

“We at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) are invested in women’s health.”

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al Rawi, who joined in the celebration, lauded women who work all day and still have time for family.

He said they are the centre of the solar system and have the power to influence what their families eat so as to prevent lifestyle diseases such a hypertension and diabetes.

He called on men “who think they are all that”, to understand that their greatest strength is to respect women.

He appealed for the return of chivalry.

“Stand up and respect women,” Al Rawi appealed.