2nd from left, Asutralian Ambassador Ross Tysoe
2nd from left, Asutralian Ambassador Ross Tysoe

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) has been awarded a grant by the Australian High Commission Direct Aid Program to fund a multi-country cervical cancer prevention initiative aimed at building the capacity of key Caribbean civil society actors to respond more effectively to the community-based needs for cervical cancer prevention, treatment and control. At the HCC offices on Friday November 29, 2013, Ambassador Ross Tysoe presented a check to the HCC for $112,800.00USD to fund five regional projects.

Every year, over 500,000 women develop cervical cancer globally. In the Caribbean 2,245 women die of cervical cancer each year; this translates to approximately 6 women dying every day - entirely unnecessarily. The Caribbean is among the top four highest sub-regions in the world with respect to the incidence of cervical cancer and has the highest burden of HPV in the Americas. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death among Caribbean women with death rates several magnitudes higher than countries such as the USA. More than 95% of cases of cervical cancer can be prevented. This requires widespread awareness, increased screening and effective prevention and control measures that include Pap Tests, HPV testing, VIA (visual inspection using acetic acid) and vaccination against HPV.

The Caribbean Civil Society Cervical Cancer Prevention Initiative (C4PI) seeks to improve the capacity of CSOs to positively impact the continuum of cervical cancer care and avert cervical cancer related deaths. The C4PI supports: the PAHO "Regional Strategy and Plan of Action for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Latin America and the Caribbean"; The Declaration of Port-of-Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic NCDs; the internationally and regionally agreed goal of 80% coverage in cervical cancer screening by 2025; the WHO Best Buy Interventions; and the Declaration for Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention.

The project will be implemented across five OECS countries. The recipient organisations and countries are as follows: The Belize Cancer Society (BCS), Belize; The Dominica Cancer Society (DCS), Dominica; The Grenada Cancer Society.

Photo: L to R: HCC PR & Marketing Volunteer Gail Niles, Ambassador Ross Tysoe, HCC Manager Maisha Hutton, HCC President, Sir Trevor Hassell and HCC IT Coordinator, Ian Pitts.