In a bid to ensure early detection and treatment of breast cancer in women, a second mammography machine will be procured next year for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Junior Health Minister Dr Karen Cummings said yesterday.
“Mr. Speaker, women who cannot afford the prohibitive costs for cancer screening at private institutions are already benefitting from the one mammography machine available at the Georgetown Public Hospital and so there will be another to enhance the capacity,” Cummings said during the debate on the government’s proposed 2018 national budget last night.
Cummings told the National Assembly that while future trends in health care can be debated, the government would be focusing on the technological drivers of public healthcare to align its strategies with them and actively work to ensure the best outcomes for society.
She added that when available data is deliberated on, it can be clearly seen that mammogram screening represents one of the best ways to investigate breast cancer and one of the only methods that can presently be considered appropriate for mass screening.
Additionally, she said that the cancer registry data shows that early detection for breast cancer is associated with better survival rates and is one of the main reasons why the next machine is being procured. She added that it clearly demonstrates “the vision and judiciousness” of the government.
In addition to the mammography machine, Cummings also pointed out that a Viral Load testing machine will be procured and will assist the country to stay in line with the United Nations (UN) goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
“Mr. Speaker, routine viral load testing helps to catch people living with HIV and AIDS who are failing on treatment before they generate resistance for antivirals and helps keep them less infectious,” she said.
She explained that even though the viral load testing is the “gold standard” in anti-retroviral therapy and is expensive, the Ministry of Public Health has already procured one.
“Mr. Speaker, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends viral load testing six months after a person starts anti-retroviral therapy and every 12 months thereafter… Soon persons living with HIV/AIDS will be benefitting from the service to be derived,” Cummings added while stating that as the ministry ushers in the new year, it will be commencing a treat-and-test-all programme that should assist put the country in line with the UN’s strategy of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.