MoH procures 3 new mammogram machines to boost breast cancer screening

– GPHC to introduce telepathology services by year-end

Health Minister,
Dr Frank Anthony

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month being observed in October, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony on Friday disclosed that three hospitals across the country will soon benefit from new mammogram machines to increase screening opportunities for Guyanese.
The Health Minister made this announcement during the launch of Pinktober 2023, a collaborative initiative between the Health Ministry and Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company (GTT), aimed towards fostering awareness and education around cancer.
Currently, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) holds the only public mammogram machine in the country, which recorded about 1300 mammograms last year.
“We recognise that’s not enough because we need to have these machines strategically placed so that people can have access,” Dr Anthony noted.
As such, the Ministry has partnered with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an inter-governmental organisation that offers technical support to several countries in areas including radiation technology.
“They have promised to give us three mammogram machines and we have already looked at the sites. We have a site prepared in the New Amsterdam Hospital, one in Linden Hospital, and one in West Demerara Regional Hospital.
“I think adding three more mammogram machines is really going to be a game-changer where many more women would be able to come to the public sector and be able to get mammograms, free of cost,” the Health Minister added.

In another effort to boost healthcare provision within the country, Dr Anthony also related that the GPHC is set to initiate telepathology services by the end of this year.
Despite improvements in receiving biopsy results now in 12 days as opposed to three months, these telepathology services intend to slash this wait time even further.
“Right now, we’re finishing off the infrastructure works at the hospital and we have already purchased the equipment so, once that comes in, we can set them up. And we have sent a number of persons to Mount Sinai for training and they will come back and work there,” the Minister explained.
“When they do a biopsy, they’ll prepare it and take a high-resolution image of the biopsy, and then we can send that to any lab in the world. If our challenge is that we don’t have enough pathologists in Guyana who can do this interpretation, now we can send it to other parts of the world where pathologists there can interpret it.”
The Ministry is working with New York-based Mount Sinai Health Systems on these services, which reportedly has some 900 pathologists within its pathology lab.

Screening guidelines
In continuing to strengthen the country’s approach to addressing breast cancer, Dr Anthony also shared that during Pinktober 2023, a set of screening guidelines are expected to be released.
These will better inform Guyanese on when to screen, how often to screen, understand whether they’re at risk, and how to address the matter, if so.
Pinktober 2023 will see a series of activities aimed towards generating awareness around breast cancer and celebrating breast cancer survivors, with Friday’s launch being the start.