Access to cancer care still limited - 'Over 300 communities still underserved'
Pointing to more than 300 communities in Jamaica that are currently underserved and have limited access to cancer care, Yulit Gordon, executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, said cost remains a barrier to both patients and agencies that administer treatment.
Speaking to journalists at an Editors' Forum held at The Gleaner's offices in downtown Kingston, Gordon admitted that the urban versus rural disparity is still wide. As such, she indicated that the society is always seeking funding to make sure that the subsidised services that are offered remain sustained.
"There are almost 700 communities across the island. We have access to about 200 or 250 a year, so there is still a significant [number] of underserved communities that We need to reach," she declared.
"We are always seeking support to do what we do, but it comes with a cost. When we look at the cost to go out there, we are talking about clinical supplies that we don't manufacture locally. They are expensive. It is a significant cost to the Jamaica Cancer Society to reach those underserved communities out there to provide the services to persons who are at risk," she continued.
She said that they continue to depend on outreach groups, churches, schools and other stakeholders to partner with them to find ways of creating equal access for all citizens.
"Even our forums, which are free of cost, it is still a challenge for some persons, based on where they live, to get there. They will have to take transportation to come to where we are hosting some of these symposiums or clinics. We have worked our way into some of these underserved communities and have taken our messages, as well as screening and counselling. However, persons in the urban districts will have access to most resources that are necessary," she said.
"Even at the Cancer Society, our services are highly subsidised, but even at the highly subsidised, rate, it is prohibitive for many persons. We are always fundraising and begging, or we are seeking grant funding from formal organisations to help remove the barrier of cost."