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World Cancer Day – Sunday, February 4, 2024. Presentation by Hon. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis and Minister of Health et al.

Published 4 February 2024


Buckie Got It Media Source

World Cancer Day – Sunday, February 4, 2024 Remarks by Hon. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, and Minister of Health et al.

Today is World Cancer Day! The world community commemorates World Cancer Day on February 4, under the theme “Close the Care Gap”. This 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. 

In almost half of Latin America and the Caribbean territories, cancer is the leading cause of premature death, and the cancer burden is expected to rise further. Approximately 1.5 million newly diagnosed cases of cancer and 700,000 cancer-related deaths occur annually in this region. In 2020, the most common cancers were prostate, breast, colorectal, and lung cancers. Infection-related cancers like stomach and cervical cancers are also common in this region.  

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. 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.   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. It will help to stay active, choose healthy food options, quit alcohol, and get regular health checks and screenings. The Ministry of Health & Ministry of Education continues to offer the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine to all children in grade six to prevent cervical cancer.  

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. This year the theme for our national campaign is “Fight Cancer Before it Begins,” which emphasizes the value of prevention and early detection. 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. Our goal is to make cancer screening more accessible and affordable, ensuring the benefit of every citizen, regardless of their socioeconomic status. 

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. The aim is to sensitize the public to the five types of cancers affecting our population. These activities are not just about raising awareness, they are about celebrating life, fostering community support, and highlighting the resilience of those who are battling cancer. We are actively working to demystify cancer screenings and encourage our citizens to take proactive steps for their health. 

Let us collaborate to promote healthy lifestyle changes to prevent cancers; let us promote cancer screening; let us partner to strengthen the health system to provide comprehensive cancer treatment.  Let us collectively act to win the fight against cancer. 

Thank you!    

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