The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World health Organization (WHO) have selected Antigua and Barbuda to participate in a study on cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women. In 2020, there were an estimated 604,000 new cases reported.
Of the estimated 342,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2020, about 90 percent of these occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
This week, health minister, Sir Molwyn Joseph, said Antigua and Barbuda was selected to participate because it has begun vaccinating children against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.
“We are now in the process of processing fifteen hundred women who we are asking to come forward and be screened as part of the project,” Sir Molwyn said.
The health minister pointed to studies which report that 25 percent of the first five hundred women screened will return a positive result for HPV.
Early treatment of the virus can prevent women from developing the abnormal cervical cells which can progress into cancer.
“There are three steps to it:
2. Treatment, and
“The reason why we were selected was because Antigua and Barbuda was the most successful Caribbean country to carry out the HPV vaccination programme. We have the vaccine programme in our schools now for both males and females starting at age eleven,” he reported,
The health minister said eliminating cervical cancer is possible but achieving this goal will require the cooperation of all women and the community as a whole.
He urged women to come forward and assist with the pilot project as doing so will have individual and societal benefits.
“Women, whenever you go for medical care, please request a screening for cervical cancer wherever you assess health care be it at a clinic or otherwise,” Sir Molwyn appealed.