Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Friday, 12 January 2024 - 11:50am




Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

A pleasant Happy New Year to all!

I wish you a year filled with love, happiness, health and peace.

In my role as Minister for Health and Social Development, I am also the Chairman of the 36th OECS/PPS Policy Board Meeting and the 9th OECS Council of Ministers: Health and I want to take a pro-active approach to health issues.

 In October, 2023, OECS Health Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chief Medical Officers, and our Regional Development Partners came together in the Virgin Islands and agreed on accelerated approaches for medical practitioners, mental health literacy for youth, and mobilising resources for the existing OECS Caribbean Association of Oncology and Hematology Screening Guidelines. We are strengthening the region together.

The highlight of the Opening Ceremony was a very moving feature address by Cancer Awareness Advocate, Dr. Arliene T. Penn, as she shared her personal experience with Cervical Cancer and shared pointers to live healthier lifestyles, thus preventing and mitigating non-communicable diseases.

According to the Pan American Health Organisation, Cervical Cancer claims lives and is the leading cause of death in more than 35,000 women in the Americas.

The majority, 80 percent or 28,000, of these cases are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Too many women are dying from what is preventable, and OECS leaders have agreed that we must do something now to eradicate cervical cancer across the region, for it is a problem.

Across the world, January is recognised as cervical cancer awareness month. During this month and year I will be partnering with Dr. Arliene T. Penn as a voice/ambassador to assist the OECS in executing its strategy to eradicate cervical cancer as a pandemic in the region.

Dr. Penn will be expected to travel throughout the region to enlighten, encourage, inspire, and support females as we seek to lower and even eradicate cervical cancer in the region.

Educating males is also important to our regional strategy. We know that Dr. Penn is passionate about this subject, and we could not ask for a better ambassador. We thank her in advance for the work she will continue to do to bring awareness and support us in this process, as we will also support her.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer and the team at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital will do their part by making the vaccines that prevent the Human Papilloma Virus available for males and females.

 Did you know that cervical cancer also affects men?

I strongly urge everyone to schedule an annual checkup, as early detection saves lives.

People of the Virgin Islands, 2024 is a year of success, and I can feel it. We will all do our part to strengthen our Territory.

As we are not living in a perfect world, there will be challenges, and I encourage us to embrace those with a spirit of success, knowing that there is a calm after every storm.

I wish everyone great success and a Happy, Healthy New Year