Grenada joined countries in the region to launch the first Caribbean-wide e-petition to pressure Caribbean Heads of Government to “increase Caribbean women’s access to affordable cervical screening”.
The e-petition was launched June 17 at Knox House, Grand Etang Road, St. George’s at a ceremony hosted by Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC).
Dr. Barrymore Mc Barnette speaking on behalf of the Grenada Cancer Society noted that every year, approximately 31,700 women in Latin America and the Caribbean die from cervical cancer.
The Caribbean is among the top four highest sub-regions in the world with respect to incidence of cervical cancer and has the highest burden of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the Americas.
Dr. Mc Barnette pointed out that more than 95 % of cases of cervical cancer can be prevented through widespread awareness, increased screening and effective prevention and control measures that include use of Pap Tests, HPV testing, VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) and vaccination against HPV.
He described the launch of the e-petition initiative as a historic one, the first of its kind in the region.
The programme is targeting some 500,000 signatures for support to be sent to Caribbean Heads of Government for their attention.
Caribbean nationals are being encouraged to visit the HCC page via Facebook to sign the petition.
Dr. Hector Diaz, Oncologist, highlighted the challenge in the region to address chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and indicated that cervical cancer is a highly preventable condition.
One of the simplest ways of controlling cervical cancer is the Pap test, yet coverage rates across the Caribbean are unacceptable with some countries reporting less than 20% of screening coverage.
Statistics show that 50% of Caribbean women with cervical cancer have never had a pap smear.
Both the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), represented by Lorice Pascal and the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association (GPPA) through Desmond John heralded this project to bring the plight of many women to light.
The two local officials both recognise that access to health care is a basic human right.
The ease of signing the e-petition was demonstrated and it was recognised that the petition is a key part of the broader HCC programme that supports the PAHO “Regional Strategy and Plan of Action for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Latin America and the Caribbean”, approved by the 48th Directing Council of PAHO/WHO.
The HCC, formed in 2008, is a regional network and alliance of non-governmental and civil society organisations from across the Caribbean Region that has a remit to address non-communicable disease (NCDs).