Premier Joseph Farrell said there is an economic, social, and emotional cost to women dying from breast cancer. He made the statement during a press conference on Friday, March 10 about his recent visit to the United Kingdom.
The premier said he lives in a home with all women and so he is very conscious of their concerns. The question was raised because of a local nurse’s recent passing attributed to cancer.
The Ministry of Health said it is currently unable to give a clear number of the women who have passed from breast and other cancers. However, in a small community of less than 5,000 people, news of women who have died in recent years, is sobering and of concern to many.
Premier Farrell expressed his thanks to Sonia Charles and the Pink Ribbon Charity Montserrat for their excellent work “over the years bringing to the fore the issue of breast cancer and that it can be prevented and cured.” He added that the recent procurement of a mammogram machine is part of the effort to support Montserrat’s women. He said the machine will be put into operation as soon as it is commissioned even before the hospital is commissioned.
The Programme Management Office is handling the procurement of a 3D mammography machine funded through the FCDO’s (Critical Equipment Programme).
He added that the Cabinet is looking at whether there is a need to mandate annual screenings for women as it is a cost to government and households when women must deal with the disease.
He shared that he recently did his annual PSA checkup for prostate cancer, and he wants women to be able to do the same, annually if needed.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry said the Ministry of Health “is currently doing an analysis of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) from data collected at the Glendon Hospital. I am hoping that this will conclude soon. NCDs include cancer. However, we know that this number will not be a true reflection of the prevalence because most persons with cancer will leave the island for further care. We also do not collect deaths occurring overseas. People also use the private sector for care and this information is not passed on to the public system. We are hoping at some point that we can develop chronic disease registries that will help us answer some of the questions you have but this will be after the health information system is implemented.”
The ministry also promotes cancer awareness especially on the days/months dedicated to certain cancers (e.g. breast cancer month) using the radio and their social media platforms.
The Pink Ribbon Charity Montserrat is currently seeking more volunteers to increase its awareness drive, not only in October but throughout the year.