NHF ramps up prostate cancer testing
The National Health Fund (NHF), in its bid to increase the uptake in prostate screening among its male beneficiaries, has signed on partners to administer the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.
The NHF signed contracts with three participating laboratories – Central Medical, Bio Medical and Fleet Diagnostic – who will partner with the NHF to carry out the testing.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, speaking at Jamaica Cancer Society on Lady Musgrave Road, in St Andrew, as he observed World Cancer Day on February 4, said prostate cancer is a major national health concern in Jamaica.
“It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Jamaican men and the low uptake of screening is a major risk factor,” Tufton said.
He bemoaned the percentage of men over 40 years of age who have never had a digital rectal examination done, putting the figure at 28 per cent.
“Of the 5.1 per cent of men 40 years of age who are sent by their health providers for PSA screening only 1.9 per cent report to having done the test,” the health and wellness minister disclosed.
ONE TEST PER YEAR
He said under the initiative, which is an addition to the NHF, individual benefit programme, men 40 years and over who are enrolled under the card programme can now access one PSA test per year of which the NHF will subsidise by $1,600 for each test.
NHF CEO Everton Anderson said the Fund that has over 89,600 active claimants with some 21,818 male 40 years and older enrolled for prostate cancer is very pleased to make the service more accessible while simultaneously raising awareness through health promotions.
“This contract signing is an exciting undertaking as it indicates yet another way in which we are meeting the needs of our beneficiaries,” Anderson said, while highlighting the importance of partnerships in the venture.
“It is our hope that men will be less reluctant about seeking health care and the uptick of this benefit will improve health outcomes,” he added.
The NHF is estimating that an uptake of 50 per cent of claimants who will access the PSA test benefit at an estimated cost of just over $71 million.