On 7 February 2022, a pilot for population screening for cervical cancer will start on Saba. All women between 30 and 60 years will be invited to participate in the coming three years. This pilot is an essential step towards a complete offering of the three population screening programmes for breast cancer, cervical cancer and colon cancer on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. Crucial in the approach on Saba is the cooperation with Saba Cares, the local care organisation.
Worldwide cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women. Through population screening, cervical cancer pre-stages can be detected early. Pre-stages of cervical cancer are usually easy to treat. Treatment can prevent the development of cervical cancer. Therefore, it is important that women on Saba can now also participate in the population screening programme.
The start of the population screening for cervical cancer on Saba is partly made possible by the collaboration between RIVM and Saba Cares, the local care organisation. RIVM is responsible for the overall coordination and monitoring of the programme and people on the islands are also active in implementing and supporting the screening processes. On Monday, 7 February, Saba Cares will start inviting women to participate in the screening. The first swab tests will follow in the week of 14 February 2022.
The people on Saba are already reasonably familiar with cervical cancer screening. However, this is currently not structurally embedded in a defined and qualitative solid process. Including the screening in a programmatic population study ensures that all women from the target group are invited and all steps necessary in the screening and possible follow-up care are properly carried out. This structural approach will contribute to health gains for the local population.
In 2020, by order of the then State Secretary Paul Blokhuis, the basis was established for the introduction of the population screening for cancer in the Caribbean Netherlands. To date, almost 650 women have participated in the breast cancer screening on Bonaire. This is an important step since many islanders were not yet known or familiar with the screening. Population screening pilots for cervical cancer will also start on Sint Eustatius and Bonaire in the coming year.