Press Release:- On Tuesday this week, the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) Tourism Enhancement Fund presented a check for $25,000 to the Lions Club of Gros Islet towards the latter’s prostate cancer awareness campaign.
During the presentation ceremony held at the SLHTA’s Secretariat at Rodney Heights, officials from both the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Lions Club of Gros Islet emphasized the importance of partnering on the initiative that targets men’s health.
Donette Ismael, TEF Programme Manager, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has captured the TEF’s focus and efforts over the past year and a half, the TEF nevertheless continues to seek ways of addressing significant health issues that affect people.
Ismael cited World Health Organization (WHO) data published in 2018 which suggests that prostate cancer deaths in Saint Lucia reached as high as 4.51% of total deaths, adding that Saint Lucia ranked number 11 in the world for prostate cancer deaths.
“Prostate cancer is a prime example of a non-communicable disease that remains one of the leading health challenges facing Saint Lucian men today,” Ismael said. “The SLHTA Tourism Enhancement Fund understands the importance of a prostate cancer awareness campaign, and, as such, the TEF is pleased to be donating $25,000 to the Lions Club of Gros Islet to carry out such a campaign.”
Ismael added that the TEF is pleased to collaborate with the Lions Club of Gros Islet and other agencies identified under this campaign to fulfil one of its core pillars of Community Development, namely Health and Wellness.
“The TEF hopes that the donation will help facilitate various components of the campaign, particularly the PSA blood test, for men to ascertain their risk of developing prostate cancer,” said the TEF Programme Manager. “We believe that this test will allow for early detection and preventative measures to help curb this health challenge.”
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by normal, as well as malignant cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood.
Ismael thanked all contributors to the Tourism Enhancement Fund, which was launched in October 2013 to encourage the organization’s greater involvement in the sustainable development of Saint Lucia.
Through the Fund, resort guests and island visitors, including short lay-over guests, are asked to participate in this exciting initiative by donating US$2 for each night of their stay at local resorts. These donations go entirely towards the Fund.
“The TEF is funded by people who voluntarily donate funds to community development projects and to help curb social ills in our society,” Ismael explained. “We have had participating partners from the inception of the TEF in 2013 who are still with us despite all of the challenges, and they continue to make the Fund what it is today.”
Coordinator of the Gros Islet Lions Club’s Prostate Cancer Programme, Wayne Monrose, said his organization’s focus last year was on prostate cancer awareness, which realized much success across various mediums, and included a poster campaign public service awareness.
“It was a call to reiterate that men should not be ashamed or embarrassed at the process of finding out their status,” Monrose stated. “It was also a reminder that the prostate is a regular part of the body and part of men’s health.”
During last year’s campaign, Monrose said, many men inquired as to where and how they could get tested. This year, the Lions Club of Gros Islet is going a step further via a collaborative effort to provide testing.
“Five hundred men will be tested free of charge,” Monrose said. “Already we have committed ourselves to increasing that number to 1,000 by this time next year and I trust that we’ll still have our partners with us.”
Monrose said the Lions Club of Gros Islet has also partnered with Lab Services and Consultations Ltd. to administer the blood tests for men who wish to know their status. He also listed the selected sectors from which men are being targeted for testing.
“We’ve looked at sectors such as public transportation, farmers and fishers, stevedores, town councils, hotel industry, Chamber of Commerce, and individuals within the respective communities,” he explained. “In consultation with the Ministry of Health, we hope that this pool of information can be utilized as a survey to evaluate the normal versus abnormal results.”
Monrose thanked the TEF, which, he said, gave its unwavering support to this year’s campaign without hesitation.
Meanwhile, President, Lions Club of Gros Islet, Samantha Joseph, was also in congratulatory mood at Tuesday morning’s presentation, underscoring the importance of not only embarking on such a life-changing campaign, but in also finding generous partners to support it.
“We want to express our deepest thanks to the SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund for their generous contribution and for collaborating with us on yet another significant project,” Joseph said. “This contribution will give 500 men island-wide the opportunity to know their status. This is quite fitting with our theme this year: “Everyone counts to build a better community. We need everyone’s help.”