Ministry increasing sites that offer cervical cancer screening

The Ministry of Health is increasing the number of sites that will use the Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid (VIA) method during screening for detecting cervical cancer.

Minister within the Ministry of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran made this announcement at a meeting with health officials on Monday at his Brickdam office. According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release this method was introduced in 2007 and ensures that there is early detection of and treatment for cervical cancer.

There are currently 13 VIA sites and the ministry is coordinating training in the application of the VIA method in regions one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and 10.

Coordinator, Indigenous People’s Communities, Nurse Patricia Singh said this procedure would be provided at major health facilities and plans are in train to introduce it in facilities along the coast. Singh said 12,000 women in regions one and eight accessed this service and 5000 other women accessed it at institutions across the regions. She said this procedure would also be drafted into the ministry’s policy and would be included in the services provided at the various health facilities.

Singh emphasised that the initiative is a family health programme and urged women to submit to the examination. A VIA test involves performing a vaginal speculum exam during which a health care provider applies diluted acetic acid (vinegar) to the cervix. Viewing the cervix with the naked eye, the health care provider is able to determine if cancer is present by identifying colour changes on the cervix.

A negative test would show no acetowhite lesions or faint acetowhite while a positive test will show a sharp or distinct dense acetowhite area on the cervix. If cancer is present there are visible growths or ulcers on the cervix which ooze or bleed when touched. This procedure can be performed by any medical personnel and the test results are issued immediately.

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