KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The Ministry of Health intends to introduce a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine this year in the fight against cervical cancer.“A study in the United States revealed that within four years of the vaccine’s introduction, HPV decreased by over 50 per cent among females aged 14 to 19. This is very good news for the fight against cervical cancer,” Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, has said.
In his message, read by Acting Director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Dr Beverley Wright, at the launch of the Jamaica Cancer Society’s fundraising initiative, Relay for Life, at Emancipation Park in Kingston on April 26, Dr Tufton said the vaccine is just one of several interventions by the ministry to reduce cases of cancer among the population.
Tufton also said that an improved public health system should decrease delay in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of persons living with cancer.
Cancer accounts for 23 per cent of deaths. The most common cancers in Jamaica are prostate, lung and colorectal in men; and breast, cervical and colorectal cancers in women. Prostate and breast cancers are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
The minister noted that all cancers have a high chance of cure through early detection and proper treatment.
“More than 30 per cent of cancer deaths can be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, alcohol use, air pollution, overweight/obesity, exposure to radiation, inhalation of indoor smoke from household use of solid fuel (coal) and infections, such as HPV and Hepatitis B,” Tufton informed.
Stressing the importance of physical activity for good health, he said that research has shown that increased physical activity can assist in reducing the incidence of breast cancer by 13 per cent and colon cancer by 14 per cent.
This is consistent with the ministry’s programmes, which seek to encourage Jamaicans to adopt healthier lifestyles.
In 2013, the ministry commenced the implementation of the cabinet-approved National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica. The plan, which emphasises cancer prevention, is slated to last from 2013 to 2018.
Most recently, the ministry launched the Jamaica Moves campaign, which encourages all Jamaicans to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity in their daily routines.
The minister commended the Cancer Society for its commitment to raising public awareness and support for persons diagnosed with this life-threatening condition.
Under the theme ‘Let’s Keep Hope Alive’, the 15th staging of the fundraising initiative, Relay for Life, is slated to take place on June 17 and 18 at the Police Officers’ Club in Kingston.
The initiative aims to raise $15 million to assist newly diagnosed cancer patients in accessing treatment; and to promote greater awareness of the condition through public education programmes.
For more information, persons can contact the Jamaica Cancer Society at (876) 927-4265; (876) 564-4007 or visit www.jamaicacancersociety.org