Marie Stewart Lewin, Executive, The Jamaica National Group
Marie Stewart Lewin, Executive, The Jamaica National Group has renewed the call for an increase in the number of public health facilities that offer affordable mammography screenings for breast cancer.
She said based on information provided by Reach to Recovery, there are currently only two public health facilities in Jamaica that are equipped with mammography machines to offer screening at no cost to women.
The two facilities are located at The University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew and the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.
“While the Jamaica Cancer Society provides mammography services at a subsidised cost of $4,000, all other machines are privately owned, and it can cost upwards of $10,000 to get screened,” she noted. “The truth is that the promotion of early detection falls flat if there are limited avenues for us to get mammograms that could, in effect, save lives.”
Mrs Stewart Lewin made the call against the background of the JN Group’s breast cancer awareness initiative, Power of Pink, which is being mounted under the theme: Pink40: Beyond the Ribbon.
She said this year’s theme is deliberate in reminding women of the need to be vigilant about breast health, especially as they approach the age of 40.
The JN Group executive further noted that the cost, time and distance many women may have to travel to access breast cancer screening services is likely to be prohibitive, pointing out that some women may choose to spend those funds on schooling and feeding their children instead of on their health.
Mrs Stewart Lewin, therefore, called for more partnerships to save the lives of women, pointing out that they make up more than half the Jamaican population.
“We are the heads of nearly half our households, and we operate the vast majority of the small enterprises,” she stated. “As the decision-makers in our households, we determine the outcomes of our children; and as the owners and operators of small and micro businesses, we play a central role in the health and sustainability of the economy and employment.”
Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer in women in Jamaica, accounting for 16.7 per cent of new cancer cases in Jamaica in 2020, according to the Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan), or 1,208 cases. Of that number, 637 haves died.