Wednesday, 23 July 2014

CARIWA calls for focus on women’s health

Greater focus must be placed on ensuring that women in this region have access to the best health care.

So says President of Caribbean Women’s Association (CARIWA), Marilyn Rice-Bowen. With that in mind, she indicated that her organisation, a regional grouping of national organisations and national councils of women, will be pushing this agenda over the next few years, as they seek to get regional governments to allocate sufficient funds for women’s health particularly areas such as cervical cancer.

Latin America and the Caribbean have one of the highest incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer, and Rice-Bowen noted that 95 per cent of such cancers is treatable and curable. She therefore maintained that it is imperative that women have access to the appropriate tests for the disease, if the region is to reduce the deaths caused as a result of it.

“Even though this cancer is curable, our women are going to be tested too late. The Pap smear kits are not as readily available throughout the region as they ought to be, and so when our women are diagnosed it is often too late. So while we are making advancements for instance in terms of infrastructure across the region, we are losing our women, and at a rapid rate,” she said in an interview with The Grenada Advocate following the recently held CARIWA 22nd Biennial Conference Installation and Closing Ceremony in Barbados.

To that end, Rice-Bowen said it is important that governments in the region understand the importance of budgeting for women’s health, especially given the fact that a large percentage of households are headed by women and illness or death of these matriarchs can devastate those families.

“CARIWA strongly believes that governments either have to make the pap smears free or ensure that the price is absolutely affordable to all. So we are calling on them to include women’s health in the annual budgets for their ministries of health, because we must save our women,” she contended.

Meanwhile, reflecting on the theme of the conference ‘Women and Disaster Preparedness’, the CARIWA president noted that the Christmas floods last year which affected some of the countries in the region, signalled for the organisation the importance of planning and disaster preparedness, and they will be taking that disaster preparedness programme throughout the region. (JRT)

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