Health, News

Former Health Minister urges Kittitians and Nevisians to take cancer more seriously

Published 14 November 2022

Basseterre

Buckie Got It, St Kitts and Nevis News Source

Credited: sknnewssource.com

FORMER HEALTH MINISTER AKILAH BYRON-NISBETT wants citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis take cancer seriously.

“Cancer related cases has always been an issue in St Kitts and Nevis as well.   We have a growing number especially breast cancer and prostate cancer, so cancer has always been an issue as it relates to non-communicable diseases,” she said.

Cancers have social and economic consequences, impacting entire nations either directly and/or indirectly, therefore early detection is the key Byron-Nisbett counselled.

“I have said it repeatedly that early detection saves lives and our community health centres offer free screening, so persons can take advantage of those facilities. free screenings and just do the necessary checkups in order to make sure to know where you are to know if you have cancer and bring home the idea that early detection is key. Once it is detected early, there is something that can be done about it.”

She held the health portfolio for two years in the coalition ‘Team Unity’ administration which held the reins of power from 2015 to August 2022, and in the exclusive with www.sknnewssource.com she reflected on her achievements.

“I got the health centres into communities instead of waiting for people to come to us. We went to them (so they can get) the screenings (for cancer) so we can have more persons aware of what  was to be done. So, we were trying to get persons to do the right thing like checkups, exercise, and eating healthy foods,” Byron-Nisbett revealed.

Nisbett-Byron, an information, communication and technology (ICT) expert, explained before her party lost this year’s polls, she planned an aggressive sensitisation campaign.

“I think that is what is going to be key, it’s just being in people’s faces all the time and being able to show them this is the reason why you have to take care of yourself.  This is why you have to do your regular checkups because at the end of the day, it saves life. Early detection saves lives. There is no clearer way that you can put it,” she counselled.

She lauded the efforts of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the area of combating the deadly disease.

“If we speak about the NGOs relating to cancer, they are very active. ‘Reach for Recovery’ and ‘Essence of Hope’ are constantly doing activities and reaching out. ‘Reach for Recovery’, for instance, has a centre of support for cancer patients who can be part of that family-support (system) throughout the year. There is also a facility for those going through treatment currently to interact with other patients after visiting a specialist. So, I would say that in St Kitts in particular, our cancer groups are very active and it’s year-round for them. It’s not just during the month,” Byron-Nisbett explained.

Her plans included establishing a cancer registry and enhancing and significantly improving data collection as her primary focus to ensure information in the field is always readily available nationally.

“It would not just have been a cancer registry, but data as a whole. With my background in ICT as a system analyst, I understand the importance of data. So, I would have already worked with the IT department in St Kitts…so that we could have collected all data relating to health,” she explained.

“Everything previously done manually would have been documented electronically (enabling) us to figure out all of the key indicators for us to make the necessary decisions…to do what would be helpful to the people of St Kitts and Nevis,” said Nisbett-Byron.

“Had I gotten the full five years that data registry not just for cancer but for all key indicators for health would have been implemented,” the former Health Minister predicted.

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