Healthcare Workers in Jamaica Provided With Free Cancer Screening & Education

With the recent commemoration of World Cancer Day, the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) used the opportunity to focus on its healthcare workers, by providing them with free cancer screening, education and wellness checks.

carnurceCommunity Health Aide from the Clarendon Health Department, Sharlene Carty (right) checks the blood pressure of Public Health Nurse from the Manchester Health Department, Shernett Kerr-Turner during the commemoration of World Cancer Day recently.Scores of healthcare workers from the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Manchester gathered at the St. James Methodist Church hall in Clarendon on February 24 and received several free screening tests. The services offered were blood pressure and blood sugar tests; Digital Rectal Examination (DRE); Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing; Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) testing; cervical and colon cancer screening and general wellness checks.

The nutrition team was also on hand to provide nutrition counseling and food sampling. The screening tests were supported by collaborations with the Jamaica Cancer Society, the National Health Fund and the May Pen Hospital Laboratory.

SRHA Regional Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Coordinator, Dr. Yasine Hanna explained that the focus of this year’s commemoration was shifted to healthcare workers, given the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on them.

“Healthcare workers are also a part of the community, and many fall within the age-groups that require screening for cancer. They have been working tirelessly through the pandemic, many without much consideration for themselves or their own health. We decided to use this as an opportunity to prioritize our staff and to provide them with an avenue to have their screenings done” Dr. Hanna said.

World Cancer Day was commemorated internationally under the theme, “Closing the Care Gap” on February 4, and raised awareness about the non-communicable disease, which is the second leading cause of death globally.

Non-communicable diseases are diseases that are not transferrable by contact but rather develop through family genetics, degenerative

changes or unhealthy lifestyle habits. For cancer, the top six diagnoses in Jamaica are prostate, breast, colorectal, lung, uterus and cervix.

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Julia Rowe-Porter, who is also the Medical Epidemiologist in the NCD & Injury Prevention Unit at the Ministry

of Health & Wellness, told the healthcare workers to be futuristic when thinking about their patients and themselves.

“Oftentimes we put the needs of others first and as servants in the health sector that’s what we do but we have to at the same time remember ourselves, because if we don’t then we will become patients too. We are trying to institute a paradigm shift in health where we think about wellness. Wellness is not just an extension of health, it is more encompassing and is an active pursuit of health. It is a key part of living a wholesome life” Dr. Rowe-Porter said.