Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally affecting one in six persons.
In the Caribbean, cancers of the cervix, uterus and ovary make up the second, third and fifth most common cancers. In Trinidad and Tobago, we have taken the fight against gynaecological cancers on all fronts — preventative, early detection, treatment and succession planning.
Preventative measures with the HPV vaccine have been further developed with the collaboration of PAHO (the Pan American Health Organisation) and the Ministry of Health. These measures are aimed at decreasing cervical cancer, which is the second leading cause of deaths in women in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. The HPV vaccine has been made available publicly at local health centres for boys and girls. The programme has been extended to schools and, with a national educational drive, it is now more widely accepted since its initial introduction.
The treatment of gynaecological cancers has moved forward in recent times. We now have a Caribbean Gynaecological Cancer Society made up of representatives from different Caribbean islands. Their last annual meeting in 2019 was held in Trinidad and Tobago. The collaboration has sought to standardise and improve gynae-cancer care for women in the Caribbean. This society collaborates with international training sites to provide gynae-oncologists to regions where this specialty is absent.
The Caribbean has made significant improvements in all aspects of care due to the passionate trained staff that are involved in the holistic care of these women. We are on our way to successfully decreasing the burden of this disease in the Caribbean.
Dr. Vishal Bahall
Head of Oncology, Southwest Regional Health Authority (SWRHA)
Associate Lecturer, University of the West Indies (UWI)
National Lead for Cervical Cancer, National Cancer Control Coordinating Committee (NCCCC)