A Caribbean-wide petition to help raise awareness of cervical cancer has garnered more than 15,400 signatures, with Cayman accounting for the country with the single most number of petitioners so far.
More than 3,600 of the signatures came from people supporting the petition in Cayman, according to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
The Healthy Caribbean Coalition, a civil society alliance set up to combat chronic diseases, launched the online petition to help raise awareness about the disease in the Caribbean, where cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
Jennifer Weber, operations manager at Cayman Island Cancer Society, said she was excited from the huge community response. “Clearly our community wants to make sure Caribbean women live to remain beautiful inside and out, with inner health and beauty,” she said.
When it came to cervical cancer awareness, prevention and early detection, Ms. Weber said Cayman’s success was on having a charity voucher program which have made it possible for women to have free Pap tests for the past 12 years and free HPV vaccinations for kids in public school and through the Public Health Department.
“In the next couple of generations, it will be interesting to see if the cervical rates to drop significantly,” she said.
Ms. Weber explains why she thought so many signatures had come from people in Cayman: “These people believe fighting cervical cancer is important and that women all over the Caribbean should have access to early detection methods and that it should be available privately and by government.” She added, “The idea is to get all the Caribbean countries to believe in this and for them to follow suit so no woman has to die of cervical cancer.”
Ms. Weber said a number of screening and effective prevention and control measures are available to women, including Pap smear tests, HPV testing and vaccinations.
“The thing about the awareness campaign is 95 percent of cases are preventable … with something that preventable, it does not make any sense that it is the second highest cause of death in the Caribbean when all it takes is early detection, a Pap test for women who are already of age, and the next generation to get HPV testing and vaccinated,” she said.
The online petition, which aims to reach a target of 50,000, is still open for signatures until Jan. 31 at www.endcervicalcancernow.org.