Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, MP, has declared the week of April 24-30, 2022, as Pap Smear Week, as the Ministry continues to recognise Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. With Cervical Cancer being the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women, and given that no woman should die from cervical cancer, Pap Smear Week is one of the initiatives to reduce Jamaica’s high Cervical Cancer incidence. The hope is that every woman over the age of 20 is inspired to do a Pap Smear.
According to Dr Tufton, “through its Non-Communicable Disease and Injury Prevention Unit, the Ministry of Health & Wellness views the month’s observance as an opportunity to place a special focus on Screening. Screening is about early detection, and early detection saves lives. Screening for cervical cancer usually starts at age 21 and goes up to 64 years, and women at high risk for cervical cancer should have screening done every year. Women at average risk for cervical cancer should have screening done every three years (once each test is normal). Abnormal results warrant more frequent testing and further treatment.”
Director of the Non-Communicable Disease and Injury Prevention Unit, Dr Nicola Skyers, also noted “this year’s communication campaign is a call for action. We really would like our women to be driven, despite any fears, to go and have their Pap Smears done. The Ministry has packed April 2022’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month calendar with meaningful media conversations with health experts. A very catchy infomercial crafted by popular consultant OB/GYN Dr Michael Abrahams is in rotation, and compelling digital and on-the-ground conversations are underway. All such initiatives have a singular aim-i.e. to educate and motivate.”
Popular vlogger ‘Dutty Berry’ has also joined the Ministry’s effort to inform and encourage Jamaican women to make their appointments to get screened. Dutty Berry will be including Cervical Cancer information in his popular weekly Top 10 Social Media Countdown throughout the month of April. Dr Skyers expressed, “we have to reach our target market where they are, making the appeal in ways they can relate to”.