Bahamas' Ministry of Health unveils plans to advance breast cancer programs

Published on September 15, 2012 at 4:35 AM · No Comments

Bahamas' Ministry of Health on Wednesday unveiled its plans to advance breast cancer programs in The Bahamas through a public-private partnership with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's leading breast cancer organization.    

The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is committed to protecting and promoting the health of the people of the Bahamas. Therefore, the Ministry of Health has a mandate to "ensure that the highest quality of services for health promotion, protection, and care are accessible to all persons of the Bahamas in order to achieve optimal health."

During a launch event, the Honorable Dr. Perry Gomez, MP, the Minister of Health, announced the formation of a Breast Cancer Planning Committee and outlined the Bahamas' breast cancer program for an audience of local non-governmental organizations, Bahamian government officials and other key stakeholders.

According to Dr. Gomez, the breast cancer agenda will include establishing a recommendation for the minimum age for breast cancer screening guidelines by January 2013; initiating provider education, including integrating breast cancer curriculum into Continuing Medical Education certification and incorporating breast cancer language into the Medical and Nursing Acts; implementing public education with assistance from Susan G. Komen; and reviewing the use of current mammography machines to ensure they are operating at full capacity.

The role of the Breast Cancer Planning Committee will be to help coordinate the efforts of the many individual organizations and groups already working to fight breast cancer in The Bahamas and assist the Ministry of Health in developing a national breast cancer policy and agenda.

The Committee will consist of, but not be limited to, representatives from the following organizations: Ministry of Health - serving as the lead agency; Marathon Bahamas; Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group; Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation; Cancer Association of Grand Bahama; Princess Margaret Hospital's Oncology Department; Doctors Hospital; Cancer Society of The Bahamas; Cancer Association of Grand Bahama; Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative; Medical Association of The Bahamas; Nursing Association of The Bahamas; Radiographers Association of The Bahamas; and Health Insurance Association.

Other speakers at the event included Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Komen founder and CEO and Brian Moodie, President of Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas. Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas is Komen's in-country Race for the Cure® partner and has made significant contributions to helping raise awareness of breast cancer. Brinker and Moodie stressed the critical need to increase awareness and improve treatment of breast cancer in the Bahamas and praised the Ministry of Health for its efforts.

Groundbreaking research, made possible by a Komen grant to Dr. Judith Hurley, M.D., of the University Of Miami School Of Medicine, has led to the discovery that 23% of the Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. The BRCA1 mutation is one of the most well-known genes linked to breast cancer risk, and is thought to explain a large portion of hereditary breast cancers, which occur in the Bahamas.

As part of Komen's efforts to support the government's breast cancer agenda, on Wednesday Komen awarded a $50,000 grant — made possible by three-time and ten-year breast cancer survivor Tina Lewis — in support of a local NGO breast cancer consortium aimed at strengthening breast cancer provider and public education services as well as technical assistance. The program will be led and implemented by Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, in collaboration with the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, and the Cancer Association of Grand Bahama. The grant is supported by the Ministry of Health, Marathon Bahamas, One Eleuthera and the wider community.

Brinker also announced that Komen is matching Lewis' gift of $50,000, for a total of $100,000 toward supporting breast cancer efforts in the Bahamas. The additional $50,000 will be used to accelerate provider training, and public education and awareness efforts in the Bahamas.

"Susan G. Komen for the Cure is proud to be collaborating with government officials, medical professionals, scientists, survivors, and advocates in The Bahamas who are taking bold strides toward ending breast cancer forever," said Brinker. "The government's breast cancer program announced on Wednesday will help increase awareness, thereby down-staging the disease - and ultimately improving care and treatment outcomes."

Other efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer in the Bahamas include a partnership between Komen and the Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort hotel - the largest employer on the Island. The new Pink it in Paradise initiative will raise funds among guests and employees and will be distributed for breast health initiatives and education in the Bahamas. To learn more visit: www.atlantis.com/promotions/pinkitinparadise.aspx.

In the Bahamas, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, with health officials estimating 300-500 new cases annually. Some 23 percent of Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, which puts a woman at greater risk for breast cancer. Nearly half of the Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer are under age 50, and nearly half of those are diagnosed at stage 3 of the disease. Studies also show that an alarming 43 percent of the women who succumb to the deadly disease are under age 50 at the time of death. Since 2009, Komen has worked with its strategic partner, Sunshine Insurance Marathon Bahamas, local government and non-government agencies to help end suffering from the disease in the islands.

This expanded partnership with the Bahamas is part of Komen's growing international presence in the fight against women's cancers. To date, millions of dollars has been invested in research and public health programs in more than 30 countries outside the United States through the funding of grants, program collaboration and the Race for the Cure series.    

Source:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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