His reassurance came in an address to mark Nevis’ observation of World Health Organization’s World Cancer Day on February 4, 2013 with the theme “Dispelling damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer” under the tagline “Cancer – Did you know?”
“Also high on the agenda is a prepaid payment plan that covers all residents. This plan is intended to guarantee access to all needed service without having to pay fees at the point where service is received…
“The onus is on all of us to work together to reduce the incidence of cancer here on Nevis, so that we no longer ask the question “Cancer – Did you know?” but we can say emphatically. “Cancer, yes I know!”
According to Minister Brantley, the global thrust for Cancer Awareness Day was health education and pledged that the Ministry of Health and its partners would heighten their health promotion efforts during the week to dispel the four common myths about the non communicable disease. Namely, “Cancer is just a health issue”; “Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed populations”, “Cancer is a death sentence” and “Cancer is my fate.”
The Health Minister used the opportunity to urge the Nevis public to visit the necessary health facilities on the island, to improve their knowledge on cancer and gave a personal commitment to draw attention to the disease.
“As my personal commitment to bring attention to cancer prevention and treatment, I signed the World Cancer Declaration. I encourage all of you to not only visit their website http://www.worldcancer.org/ but visit the Health Promotion Unit, the Health Centre in your district or your personal physician for more information on cancer,” he said.
Meantime, in response to the myth Cancer is just a health issue, Mr. Brantley said the Ministry of Health in partnership with other line ministries, non-governmental, faith-based organizations and corporate entities had adopted a multisectoral approach to address the prevention, care and treatment of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) among them Cancer.
“Workplace screening programmes, school health programmes and community outreach activities for example, form part of the annual work plan of the Ministry of Health.,” he said.
With regard to Cancer touted as a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries, Mr. Brantley reiterated that the disease did not discriminate.
“In 2010, 25 cases of cancer were diagnosed in Nevis, followed by an additional 27 in 2011 with the most common cancers being breast, cervical and prostate cancers. The age range of these individuals was from 10-19 to 90-99, dispelling the global myth associating cancer solely with the elderly,” he said.
As to the myth that Cancer was a death sentence, the Health Minister stated the prevention and early detection saved lives. He noted that the Ministry of Health’s foremost priority was health promotion and prevention initiatives.
“The Public Health Department executes a number of programmes related to Non- Communicable Diseases prevention and control including the performance of pap smears, which are an effective tool in cervical cancer diagnosis. The test is available at Health Centres free of cost.
“In 2012, 357 pap smears were conducted at the primary health care facilities on Nevis. Further diagnostic services for cervical cancer are also available at the Alexandra Hospital through the availability of a colposcopy machine,” he said.
Mr. Brantley further added, that the Men’s Health Clinics were available at four of the six Health Centres on Nevis and have been credited for the provision of health education sessions on cancer among other services. As a result, men on the island have increasingly indulged in healthy behaviors reflected by the large number of men who access health screening services.
“Particular mention must be made of men accessing prostate cancer screening services in the January clinics held by Dr. Thwaites for the last five years. Between 2012 and 2013, approximately 750 men benefitted from these services.
“Other cancer diagnostic and treatment services available at the Alexandra Hospital include ultrasound, transurethral resection of the prostate using green light laser technology, colonoscopy, gastroscopy and laparoscopy,” he said.
The Health Minister said he looked forward to the availability of the services of a United States Virgin Island based Haemotologist/Oncologist who will begin her practice locally from February 8, 2013, and the start of the Urology Centre headed by Dr. Thwaites in the next few months.