Fight against endometriosis reaches Manchester
With an increasing number of women being diagnosed with endometriosis in Jamaica and around the world, the Better Awareness and Support for Endometriosis (BASE) Foundation is taking the fight against the condition to several parishes. Manchester will be the first with the launch of the Endometriosis Awareness Month and the Endo March.
Endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells similar to those found in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body, such as skin, eyes, spine, lungs and brain, and often result in severe pain, infertility, scar tissue, adhesions and bowel problems.
Representatives of the BASE Foundation on Sunday, March 1, further acknowledged the suffering faced by many women and officially launched the continued efforts of providing support with a church service at the Ridgemount United Church in the parish.
According to co-founder of the two-year-old organisation, Shauna Fuller Clarke, March which was declared Endometriosis Awareness Month, will see a number of activities being rolled out.
"With the declaration of Endometriosis Awareness Month last year by the Governor General, we decided to embark on islandwide activities because it's not only women in Kingston who suffer from it. If over a 100,000 girls or women have it in Jamaica, there's much to be done outside of Kingston. We are going to establish a support group meeting here in Manchester and then we'll move on to Montego Bay (St James). We will have volunteers here, who will be working with NCU (Northern Caribbean University) and, so far, with what we have, I believe we are ready to start something great here. Thursday, March 19, we will have a public forum on Endotalk at UWI's medical science building; our first ever M-Power boot camp challenge will be on March 21 at Campion College and, of course, the biggest event will be our Endo March on Saturday, March 28."
Taking an average of 8-10 years to be properly diagnosed, several persons underestimate symptoms experienced and later suffer silently. But Fuller-Clarke is saying this needs to end.
"Among us, there are many who silently suffer from this disease and our efforts attempt to bring a face to this issue. Our efforts are geared at stimulating conversation so that our girls and women can recognise that we do not have to live in shame because of this disease."
Her lungs collapsed on her six years ago and five litres of liquid had to be removed from her chest. Fuller-Clarke is now a true testament that endometriosis is serious and victims require the support of others to endure it.
"Our biggest activity, the Endo March, will involve participants from all parishes of Jamaica - including but not limited to women, families, high-school and university students, corporate Jamaica, and church members, who will converge at a central point in Kingston. At the scheduled time, a marching band will lead participants as they walk together in unison, wearing the Endometriosis Awareness colour (yellow), from Emancipation Park to Devon House, where a Market and Wellness Fair will be set up. Her Excellency, the Most Honourable Lady Allen, and other distinguished guests will speak at the rally. At this time, we will recognise individuals and institutions for their contribution to raising awareness for endometriosis and advancements in research or technologies."
Among the hundreds of Manchesterians who turned up for the launch were the Custos of Mandeville, Sally Porteous; board chairman of Southern Regional Health Authority, Michael Stewart; Chief Justice, Hon Zalia McCalla; Custos of Kingston His worship, Steadman Fuller.
The fight against the disease is expected to include endometriosis in the list of chronic diseases at National Health Fund, to implement health screenings for endometriosis among girls and women in public schools, to find a cure for endometriosis, and to develop non-invasive diagnostic tests and to work with the Government to allocate funding for the disease.