Dr. Patrick Martin – Chief Medical Officer
March 07, 2010
Chief Medical Officer in St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Patrick Martin said it was important for members of the public to be aware that cancer was not a death sentence but a preventable, and curable disease once there was access to the right therapy.
He stressed on the issue while he spoke to local media on Nevis recently at a meeting with health practitioners on the island at the Alexandra Hospital’s Conference Room. He said cancer should not be approached from a reactive curative mindset and called for lifestyle changes.
“Cancer is not a death sentence, it is preventable. We know what is driving our cancer rates – Sexually transmitted infections. The Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted infection and causes cancer of the cervix. That is the reason why we offer free pap smears in the clinics. Hepatitis B Virus causes cancer of the liver. We offer free Hepatitis vaccines in the clinics. So right there you have some preventable measures that are free.
“Smoking of tobacco is an issue. We have data to suggest that six percent of our population smokes tobacco. The big worry for us is the tobacco industry is targeting young people and we have to push back and we will push back against that,” he said.
Dr. Martin also pointed to the use of alcohol which was a known cause of cancer especially in the digestive tract.
“Everywhere from your mouth to your anus, alcohol is a cause for cancer but you know in our country, alcohol is cheaper than food so we have to do some work there on some mindsets,” he said.
The need to consume more of the foods grown in St. Kitts and Nevis was a matter he said which should be impressed on and the need for a more active lifestyle and thanked Health Minister in the Nevis Island Administration Hon. Hensley Daniel for his example.
“It is true that those persons who have adopted a western lifestyle of fast food, high salt, high fat they have higher cases of cancer, there is no doubt about it. The persons in Nevis who are growing food we are not going to see them at the cancer center, guaranteed.
“Finally we have some issues with inactivity and overweight. The data is almost 50 percent of our adults are too overweight. I know Minister you have been setting the example by your own exercise regime so thank you very much,” he said.