- The following statement was released by Progressive Labour Party MP Tinee Furbert
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 that improves access to healthcare benefits, to name a few.
As I reflect on June of 2015, I am reminded that the OBA brought forth legislation, the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act. This legislation would have allowed for an adoption of guidelines from the US and would have reduced access to mammography in Bermuda. Unfortunately, this was a clear attempt by the OBA to mislead Bermudians and lead us to believe that over-diagnosis and unnecessary exposure were occurring at significant levels to warrant limited access. The truth is, access to mammography on the island was actually changing and saving lives.
Mammograms are a tool used to measure the detection of and diagnosis of breast cancer. As a Parliamentarian who is constantly on the doorstep listening and championing the concerns of women, I am disheartened by the fact 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 of this unwanted condition.
The reality is, health status is affected by access to health services and the quality of delivery. Access, in this instance, 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 focused on maintaining healthy patients. It is important that the Government ensures 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 is paramount. We have endorsed improved oncology and radiation services provided in Bermuda so that persons with cancer could 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.