The Disabled Access Breast Screening organisation held a launch for a programme in Grand Bahama to assist disabled women with getting mammograms. Here Ms. Watson’s chairman and founder present Yasmin Cornish with her Sweater, Lanyard and GTeaching Mold. Photo: Vandyke Hepburn
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
BREAST cancer screening for disabled Bahamian women has been launched in Grand Bahama - even as one campaigner warned that disabled women lack access to proper screening although they face the same risks as other women.
Founder Erin Brown said the goal of Disabled Access Breast Screening (DABS) is to improve equity for women with disability, increase access for screening for disabled women, and improve data collection, among other things.
“When I share statistics … the missing component in all the data that I shared are the voices, stories and availability of inclusive healthcare for women and girls with disabilities,” she said.
Even though women with disabilities represent approximately one percent of the Bahamian women population according to the 2010 census, Ms Brown believes the number is growing and may not reflect what the numbers are today.
She said: “We want to ensure that together we will lower the rate of breast cancer deaths in all Bahamian women across the length and breadth of the Bahamas.”
Ms Brown, a disabled cancer survivor, knows first-hand the importance of early screening prevention and rehabilitation, and how it can impact disabled patients and their families.
She reported that disabled women accessing breast screening services face a number of barriers from planning to scheduling appointments, as well as the unavailability of proper exam rooms and equipment that accommodate wheelchair users.
Ms Brown indicated there are limited or improperly accessible vans, transportation and parking, and interior design layouts or external infrastructures do not accommodate the disabled.
She said people with disabilities also face substantial economic and social barriers, such as medical service shortages, high rates of poverty, uninsured or under-insured status.
She believes disabled women in The Bahamas are less likely to receive screenings/mammograms in accordance with recommended guidelines.
Her organisation, Erin Brown Connects Disability Advocacy and Inclusion Management LLC, focuses on removing the barriers to breast cancer screening.
Breast cancer statistics in The Bahamas remain elevated. It is estimated that more than 300 women are being diagnosed annually.
Nikeia Watson, of Mammogram Access Programme; Mrs Brennamae Cooper, a social worker at the Department of Social Services, also attended the launch.