June is a very reflective month for me as a healthcare professional, a woman and a Member of Parliament. Each day, I fight for the needs of the people of this country, specifically women.
I am passionate about improving lives and doing so through legislation that addresses domestic violence, improves child support, introduces the requirement of nursing space in the workplace and improves access to healthcare benefits. These are to name a few.
As I reflect on June 2015, I am reminded that the One Bermuda Alliance brought forth legislation titled the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act. This legislation would have allowed for an adoption of guidelines from the United States and would have reduced access to mammography in Bermuda. Unfortunately, this was a clear attempt by the OBA to mislead Bermudians and have us believe that overdiagnosis and unnecessary exposure were occurring at significant levels to warrant limited access. The truth is that access to mammography on the island was actually changing and saving lives.
The mammogram is a tool used to measure the detection of and diagnosis of breast cancer. As a parliamentarian who is constantly on the doorstep listening to and championing the concerns of women, I am disheartened that too many of our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends are affected by the strife of breast cancer or know someone who has lost the battle with this unwanted condition.
The reality is that health status is affected by access to health services and the quality of delivery. In this instance, access to mammography would have been taken away if women and men did not show their concern and discontent with the proposed legislative change by the former government.
Similarly, quality must be continually demonstrated through physicians delivering care that is on par with international best practice for prevention and detection, the availability of proper equipment for testing and administering services all delivered by passionate professionals who are focused on maintaining healthy patients.
It is important that the Government ensures that both quality and access to health services are afforded to the public.
As such, the Progressive Labour Party believes that early detection of cancer, oncology care and treatment are paramount. We have endorsed improved oncology and radiation services provided in Bermuda so that persons with cancer can have the close support of their families during diagnostics and treatment.
This year, as I go for my mammogram, I am comforted that this legislation was not supported and consequently women and men have access to this crucial test. The work, however, must continue as together we tirelessly implement legislation and create policies to improve the lives of all Bermudians.
• Tinée Furbert is the Junior Minister of Disability Affairs and the MP for St George’s South (Constituency 4)