As the Ministry of Health & Wellness through its Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Injury Prevention Unit, readies itself to join the world in recognising World Cancer Day on Thursday, February 4, 2021, it has planned a series of public education activities and virtual events under the global theme, ‘Together, all our actions matter- I Am and I Will’.
These scheduled activities will see intense focus on cancer awareness, prevention, control and create opportunities to sound a clarion cry for screening.
Screening is the best way to identify cancer in its earliest stages, often before it causes any symptoms. Without screening, the ability for doctors to detect and therefore successfully treat cancer is greatly diminished. For this reason, screening outreach will form a central part of this year’s commemoration of World Cancer Day. The Ministry has partnered with The Woman’s Place, Apex Radiology, Radiology West and the Jamaica Cancer Society to be able to have islandwide screening offered at discounted rates. In the case of The Jamaica Cancer Society, it will be providing a total of 60 free screening places (mammogram & pap smears) to persons referred by the public health centres.
Though screenings are a vital aspect of comprehensive healthcare, many people either delay or avoid getting screened for cancer for two main reasons- the cost-as a major factor and the fear of hearing the worst. “In response to the fear factor as a cause for delaying screening we are widening our channels of communication in order to have conversations with persons to provide more information and try to allay their fears”, stated Dr. Nicola Skyers, Acting Director, Non-Communicable Disease and Injury Prevention Unit, at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Dr. Skyers continued, “Facing fears of potential cancers is difficult, but it’s important to do. It’s the best way to take care of your body and yourself. If you don’t have cancer, the news will be encouraging. If you do, learning about your cancer may be disheartening, but it’s the first step to treating and overcoming the cancer”.
Sanchez Palmer, Medical Physicist with the Ministry also highlighted that, “Each type of cancer has its own screening tests. Some types of cancer currently do not have an effective screening method. Developing new cancer screening tests is an area of active research”.
It is important to talk with your doctor about your personal risk of developing cancer. Together you can decide on an appropriate screening schedule based on your age and personal and family medical history.
With so many of us either directly or indirectly affected by cancer, many Jamaicans from all walks of life alongside cancer survivors are lending their voices, making their commitment statements, “I Am and I Will” of positive action to help in the fight against cancer. To also reinforce the message of cancer prevention and control, on World Cancer Day and throughout February there will be several media interviews, sponsored segments on radio, an Outside Broadcast, informative social media postings, a Webinar for Primary Care Providers and press highlights. The ‘centre-piece’ will be the staging of a LIVE event, Thursday February 4 starting at 8:00 p.m. on Ministry’s social media pages [@themohwgovjm], where all are invited to participate, interact with health professionals who will discuss cancer and answer questions.
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