Because of the perceived stigma attached to cancer, many individuals, especially males, have been forgoing screening. This observation was recently made by Government Medical Officer [GMO] attached to the Oncology Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC], Dr. Nyron Ramsundar.
Screening essentially refers to someone being examined by a suitably qualified health worker, even without any known concerns, to ascertain the possibly of them developing a disease or ailment that could be life-threatening. Screening can help to detect cancer early so that treatment can be forthcoming to reduce the chances of fatality.
Given the understanding he has of males in the Guyanese society, Dr. Ramsundar concluded that, “we have a macho way about us that we wouldn’t visit the hospital for something that we consider to be minor.” It is for this very reason he noted that the GPHC is on a mission to educate the public that “even the smallest sign could be a sign of something very important [problematic].”
To spread its information to the public, the GPHC has embarked on an outreach initiative. As part of the initiative, health workers of the GPHC have not only been educating the public, but offering screening services to individuals.
While women have always been coming out in their numbers to be screened, Dr. Ramsundar said that deliberate efforts are being made to encourage men to take advantage of this service too. This is in light of the fact that, not only are they susceptible to prostate and colon cancers, but a small percentage of men can also be victims of breast cancer too.
The GPHC kicked off its outreach in Linden two Sundays ago, but despite the appeal for more men to come forward Dr. Ramsundar related that while “we saw a lot of patients there, the majority who responded were female patients.”
Another outreach was slated for last Sunday at the Supenaam, Essequibo Coast health centre and next Sunday, yet another will be conducted at the Skeldon Hospital in Berbice. The final outreach in the initiative will be held at the GPHC on Saturday October, 28.
While the outreach comes as part of the activities to raise awareness about cancer, Dr. Ramsundar divulged that the Oncology Department has not been working in isolation. In fact he disclosed that the hospital has been working closely with the Ministry of Public Health and the Cancer Institute of Guyana.
“We are trying to educate those we see, so that they can understand the seriousness of cancer and pass on the information about this disease to others. Right now we are just trying to promote awareness to anyone who has suspected something, who has a family history of cancer, those who have noticed an abnormal growth or even irregular bleeding to come out and get some testing done,” said Dr Ramsundar.
He cautioned that persons should stay away for fear of a cancer diagnosis, since there are available treatments that have been tried tested and proven to be effective in saving lives.
“We are using actualised treatment that the rest of the world is using,” Dr Ramsundar assured.
He however noted that even after the outreach initiative would have come to an end, persons will still be able to receive information and medical support from their regional health facilities. It is expected that this move will help to reduce the number of persons who seek such services at the GPHC. The GPHC is currently the main referral hospital in the country and thus sees the majority of patients, including those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
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