United Nations, New York Headquarters, 14 March 2014
During the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women a side event was held on the prevention of breast and cervical cancer. The panel discussed the importance in prevention and early detection in determining the health outcomes for women.
A representative of CARICOM from the Bahamas explained that due to late detection – often not until stage three or four – health outcomes from breast cancer diagnoses in the Caribbean are more grave than in developed countries. With regards to cervical cancer, after preforming a cost-benefit analysis, the government of the Bahamas has added the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to its schedule of vaccinations. Dr. Jackie Blue discussed the public health efforts in New Zealand and Pacific Island countries. She explained that until recently, breast cancer was the leading cause of death from non-communicable diseases in New Zealand for women. Because of this, the government started a mass campaign of screening.
Dr. Carissa F. Etienne stated that cervical cancer is almost completely preventable with knowledge about contraceptives and vaccination, and lack of access to this education places a disproportionate burden on impoverished women. Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul reiterated the disparity of health outcomes in developing versus developed nations. Dr. Knaul explained that in Mexico, there is insufficient screening. She lobbied for better training of physicians, to enable them to conduct better screenings without the expense of mammograms.
Finally, Dr. Padmini Murthy discussed her experiences as a physician in India. She emphasized the need to bring men into the discussion of women’s health. In extreme patriarchal societies, where men decide whether or not their female relatives go to the doctor, men need to be educated about the importance of these screenings.
Meeting Title: Women And NCD Panel Discussion Cervical And Breast Cancer: Why Prevention Matters – CARICOM Member States, New Zealand, PAHO/WHO, NGO CSW Forum
Key Speakers: Dr. Jackie Blue, Human Rights Commission; Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization; Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, Director, Harvard Global Equity Initiative; Dr. Padmini Murthy, Assistant Professor, New York Medical College
Written by WIT Representative: Katherine King