Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis – In recognition of World Cancer Day on Sunday 4th February, Prime Minister and Health Minister, the Honourable Dr. Terrance M. Drew, in a statement, addressed the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis to highlight the significance of the internationally celebrated day and the launch of a week-long series of cancer awareness initiatives in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
World Cancer Day was celebrated under the theme “Close the Care Gap”. A theme the Minister of Health stated “is a call for the global community and national health authorities like the Ministry of Health to strengthen the health system and improve access to services including cancer screening, early detection, and treatment”.
He underscored the Ministry of Health’s commitment to bridging the care gap by prioritizing early intervention and improving access to cancer screening and detection services.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) intends to “Close the care gap” by focusing on increasing access to screening, early detection of cancers, and provision of care at the earliest possible stage to ensure better health outcomes” he added, “We are investing in educational initiatives through all media platforms to inform our people about the importance of lifestyle changes and regular screenings, particularly for those cancers that are most prevalent in our Federation”.
The Prime Minister and Health Minister stated that the theme for the Federation’s national campaign is “Fight Cancer Before it Begins,” and that the emphasized the aim of enhancing the accessibility and affordability of cancer screening, ensuring that every citizen, irrespective of their socioeconomic background, can benefit from it.
Dr. Drew highlighted two key activities in the week-long schedule aimed at educating the public about the various types of cancers affecting residents.
“Our week-long activities also include (1) A panel discussion on the topic, ‘Colon Cancer’, which will be aired on ZIZ’s Health Wise on Monday, February 5, 2024, and (2) the “Hope Village Expo,” a cancer awareness event that will take place on February 9, 2024, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at Independence Square”, said Dr. Terrance Drew.
During his statement the Prime Minister shared sobering statistics: between 2018 and 2022, stating that 377 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“In St. Kitts & Nevis, the trend is similar, with 377 newly diagnosed cases of cancer reported between 2018 to 2022. The main types of cancer affecting our people are breast, prostate, colon, skin, endometrial, and cervical cancers”, he added, “Cancer is also affecting the Federation’s mortality trend. From 2017 to 2021, 19.5% of deaths were attributed to cancers or neoplasms, and many of these cases were detected when their disease had already advanced to Stage II & Stage III levels”.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister and Minister of Health the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew informed the public “Early detection of cancer improves the chances of successful treatment and survival”.
“Cancer can be prevented. The main modifiable risk factors for cancer are (1) Low intake of fruits and vegetables, (2) Lack of physical activity, (3) Harmful use of alcohol, and (4) Tobacco use. Changing these habits may help prevent cancer”, he stated.
Prime Minister Drew concluded his statement by urging the citizens and residents of the Federation to “collaborate to promote healthy lifestyle changes to prevent cancers” by promoting cancer screening and partnering to strengthen the health system to provide comprehensive cancer treatment.