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Cancer society wants help from phone companies

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 11:04 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Yulit Gordon, executive director for the Jamaica Cancer Society, has made an appeal for telecommunications firms to do more in spreading the word about cancer prevention and treatment in the island.

"I would love to see the telecoms companies, just by nature of their technology and their customer database, coming on board to partner with us with our educational campaigns," Gordon said at a recent Gleaner Editor's Forum held at the company's North Street Offices in Kingston.

She said that although telecoms firms have, in the past, partnered with the cancer society, more collaboration needs to be done in raising awareness among citizens.

"Campaigns are very expensive, it is not cheap, so it would be very good if we could get our telecommunications companies to assist us in that regard," Gordon pleaded.

Shullian Brown, fundraising and communications officer at the Cancer Society, had similar sentiments.

"LIME has been helping us, specifically during the month of April, for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. They send out messages to their database of customers, inviting women to do their screening. However, where we would like to go is having more of these collaborations," she said.

But at least one medical practitioner has warned against an over reliance on telecoms services in the fight agaisnt cancers.

Dr Mike Mills, gastroenterologist, said that it is important that the right persons are targeted in addition to telecommunications companies coming on board.

"I believe that physicians have to be a part of this collaboration because, generally, persons prefer to listen to their personal doctors," Mills said.

"If you are busy and you get a text message, it is highly possible that you will ignore the message, but if patients have their doctors reminding them to get their screening done, I think it would also help in that regard," Mills said.

"This is not to rule out telecommunications companies coming on board. I'm just saying both doctors and technology would go hand in hand. Doctors need to know that in addition to treating a patient for cold and sinus, or fever, they can use the opportunity to inform their patients about screening and the whole issue of cancers in addition to sensitising them about the importance of practicing healthy lifestyles," he added.