Visiting RAM medical team off to Rupununi outreach
Guyana Chronicle – March 31, 2008
By Nathalene DeFreitas
THE team of medical doctors from the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Volunteer Corps last Saturday departed Georgetown to the Rupununi to commence their medical outreach programme on cervical cancer in the area.
In an interview with the Director of RAM Dr Rebecca Kightlinger, she noted the desperate need that developing countries have for the provision of women’s health services, such as screenings for cervical cancer and breast cancer.
Dr Kightlinger explained that RAM is actively involved in providing screenings and treatments, also mammograms, and sometimes Pap smears. She added that through the Guyana project currently hundreds of village women are being treated and since the project was launched in Guyana over 2,000 Amerindian women were screened and treated.
Research has shown that Guyana has the third highest rate of death from cervical cancer in the Western Hemisphere. Cervical cancer is preventable through screening.
Dr Kightlinger pointed out that the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues had sought the assistance of the medical team to visit Amerindian villages, because most of the indigenous women have never been screened due to the extreme difficulty encountered in reaching the city.
The RAM Guyana Cervical Cancer Team travels by plane then jeep and canoe to the remote savannahs and rainforests of Guyana to provide medical care for the Amerindian women. The team visits Guyana four times annually to do follow-up checks on their patients.
“Our volunteers screen for cervical cancer, remove pre-cancerous lesions, perform hysterectomies when necessary, and treat cervical cancer with life-saving radical hysterectomies. The team is also researching new techniques that would replace Pap smear screening and enable women to be diagnosed and treated. We have found that the incidence of cervical disease in this previously unscreened population is over ten times higher than that in the United States. Since the programme started some four years in Guyana we have seen a lot of success,” said Dr Kightlinger.
To make this programme sustainable in Guyana, RAM volunteers are also working with the Ministry of Health and the University of Guyana to establish Guyana’s first OB/GYN residency programme, and with Guyana’s medical staff at Georgetown Public Hospital to establish a gynaecologic cancer service and develop Guyana’s national cervical cancer screening protocol.
“What started as a Pap smear screening programme has evolved into a comprehensive cervical cancer and women’s health programme that can put to good use the skills and knowledge of volunteers in all fields of women’s health, pathology, cytology, and even medical anthropology,” noted Dr Kightlinger.
RAM medical is performing a social responsibility by helping those people who don’t have the capability to access the medical treatment. RAM, generally helps those people who are not able to bear the cost of the medical treatment. Patients of the medical team are provided with health check ups and treatments, which are free from this clinic.
The team of doctors is dedicated to their work and their humanitarian approach in making a change in the hinterland regions. The founder of the organization is Mr. Stan Brock.