Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Gov’t moving to reduce waiting time for pap smear results

Published:Monday | October 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Dr Christopher Tufton during a tour of the National Public Health Laboratory.
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Concerns over long waiting time for the results of Pap smear tests in public health facilities have forced some of Jamaica's most vulnerable women to use private facilities at costs ranging from $2,500 to $5,000.

But the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) says it is working to reduce this waiting time for the results, which it says is usually no more than six weeks.

According to Dr Memory Stennett, chief consultant pathologist at the NPHL, the delays in having the results ready were not always the fault of the lab.

"Three months is the upper limit for results. Seventy-five per cent of samples without any abnormality are ready within six weeks, and based on the report of the personnel who did the screening, reports can be ready in 10 days," Stennett told The Gleaner.

She said that of the remaining 25 per cent, the results are ready within three months, with incomplete documentation causing some of the delays.

"The documentation for some of the samples have limited information and sometimes results are completed but we are not sure where to dispatch results," said Stennett, adding that in some instances, results have been returned to the lab after not being collected.

In the meantime, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the NPHL has requested additional equipment to double the total number of samples taken per year as Jamaica steps up its screening for cervical cancer.

According to Tufton, the NPHL is moving to introduce new technology which would allow for more accurate results, and would double the number of test analyses from an average of 21,000 each year.

"I have asked for a submission to be made and I will see what I can do for the next budget. The cost is US$50,000," said Tufton.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com