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HEALTH TRENDS

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Cancer Society gets help from int'l partners

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) has been awarded a grant by the Australian High Commission Direct Aid Program to fund a multi-country cervical cancer prevention initiative aimed at building the capacity of key Caribbean civil society organisations to respond more effectively to the community-based needs for cervical cancer prevention, treatment, and control.

The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS), Belize Cancer Society, Dominica Cancer Society, Grenada Cancer Society, and the Cancer Institute of Guyana are the five regional projects that will benefit from the US$112,800 grant.

"We are very happy and grateful to be benefactors of this very worthwhile initiative," said Yulit Gordon, executive director, JCS.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women, with an incidence of 27.9 per 100,000 and a mortality rate of 15.8 per 100,000 women.

"We have not won the battle against cervical cancer as not enough of our women are being tested due to lack of awareness, fear, failure to take action, and lack of financial support," shared Gordon.

"The funds from this programme will significantly improve our community-intervention programmes as we will be able to work through the churches and community groups to bring Pap smear screening to women in those underserved communities who would not otherwise have access to this service. The fact is, through an effective screening programme and early detection, it is indeed possible to achieve the objective of having no woman in Jamaica die from cervical cancer in the foreseeable future."

Black men raised by single parent prone to high blood pressure - study

Black men who were raised in single-parent households have higher blood pressure than those who spent at least part of their childhood in a two-parent home, according to a new study.

This is the first study to link childhood family living arrangements with blood pressure in black men in the United States, who tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure than American men of other races. The findings suggest that programmes to promote family stability during childhood might have a long-lasting effect on the risk of high blood pressure in these men.

In the study, which was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, researchers analysed data on more than 500 black men in Washington, DC, who were taking part in a long-term Howard University family study.

The researchers adjusted for factors associated with blood pressure such as age, exercise, smoking, weight, and medical history. After doing so, they found that men who lived in a two-parent household for one or more years of their childhood had a 4.4 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) than those who spent their entire childhood in a single-parent home.

Men who spent one to 12 years of their childhood in a two-parent home had an average 6.5 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure and a 46 per cent lower risk of being diagnosed with high blood pressure.

"Living with both parents in early life may identify a critical period in human development where a nurturing socio-familial environment can have profound, long-lasting influences on blood pressure," said study leader Debbie Barrington, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City.

Barrington and her team noted that poverty may play a role in the findings as well. Black children who live with their mothers are three times more likely to be poor, the researchers said. Those who live with their fathers or a non-parent are twice as likely to be poor. Children who are not raised by both parents also are much less likely to find and keep steady employment as young adults.

Clinical practice for med students

Jamaica's first offshore medical school is now in a position to offer clinical practice to students, this, as the school signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health.

The MOU will mean that medical students from the All-American Institute of Medical Sciences (AAIMS) can now do clinical practice at some Jamaican medical facilities. The institutions cover hospitals in Jamaica's Southern Regional Health Authority (Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth).

Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson said, "I see this as a win-win opportunity where medical doctors in training can be exposed to what happens in our health facilities and at the same time we in the health service can ensure that a high quality of health care is delivered under properly supervised circumstances."

The three-year-old AAIMS medical school is an offshore facility that currently operates a campus in Black River, St Elizabeth. There are 114 students on roll with 70 in the medical doctor programme and 44 in a pre-med programme.