Bahamian Women’s Reproductive Health Care Needs Addressed in Harvard-Affiliated Hospital News 

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Healthcare writers Tosheena Robinson and Dr Shamanique Bodie Williams’ article, Screening Inequalities During Covid,” is featured in the latest edition of MGH Global OB/GYN Newsletter this International Women’s Day (Tuesday, March 8).

Two Bahamians made their editorial debut this International Women’s Day in a publication of Massachusetts General Hospital, the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. 

Dr Shamanique Bodie-Williams and media professional Tosheena Robinson tackled the pandemic’s impact on cervical screenings tests for Bahamian women in their article, “Screening Inequalities During Covid,” featured in the latest edition of the digital journal MGH Global OB/GYN Newsletter

Aside from providing patient care and training for its Harvard-affiliated physicians, a mission of Mass General Global OB/GYN (obstetrics/gynecology) is to address topical health care issues for women throughout the world. The goal is to enhance knowledge about the diagnosis and management of obstetrics and gynecologic diseases unique to resource-poor settings both domestically and abroad. 

In the latest issue, Dr Bodie Williams and Ms Robinson highlighted the plight of two young mothers battling cervical cancer. 

“This article is a timely reminder and a call to action for our governments to ensure that cervical cancer prevention is not compromised in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Natalie Medley, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist and associate lecturer at the University Hospital of the West Indies/University of the West Indies. 

Dr Medley authored the foreword which introduces the article. 

“Prior to the pandemic, only 10 percent of women seeking care in The Bahamas’ public health system received cervical screening tests. With the onset of the coronavirus disease, pap smears have fallen to an all-time low with very little being done to increase the rate of screening. Preventative care, including women’s reproductive health care, and the efficient management and timely treatment of all other diseases have taken a backseat to the war on COVID,” the authors wrote in MGH Global OB/GYN Newsletter. 

“It’s a decision The Bahamas may very well come to regret long after the pandemic’s final wave has washed over this island nation.”  

Dr Bodie-Williams, an OB/GYN, works as a consultant physician in Grand Bahama’s public health system and operates private clinics in Grand Bahama and New Providence.  

“I was extremely honored and humbled by the invitation to author a piece for such a prestigious publication. MGH provided The Bahamas with an opportunity to brief our global counterparts about a challenge that’s quite likely faced by countries throughout the region and other developing nations,” said Dr Bodie-Williams.  

“Given the decreased screening capacity and the lack of timely follow-ups of abnormal pap smear results, The Bahamas could find itself facing an increase in patients with late-stage cervical cancer. It’s vital that we create a plan for such a scenario.” 

To write the article, Dr Bodie-Williams decided to team up with Ms Robinson, the 2020 winner of the Bahamas Press Club’s PAHO-WHO Excellence in Health Promotion Award.  

A trained media professional and an award-winning journalist, Ms Robinson holds a master’s degree in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University. She is the founder of the public relations (PR) agency, Precision Media.  

Both graduates of Kingsway Academy’s Class of 1996, the women worked together previously on other editorial projects. 

“Shamanique received an amazing opportunity to bring global awareness to a critical women’s issue. She didn’t need to collaborate, but she opened a door, and I was happy to assist her in sharing her knowledge from the field,” said Ms Robinson. 

“As the country slowly returns to pre-pandemic norms, it’s of the utmost importance that we clear up any backlog of women’s reproductive health care cases in the public health system. The last thing anyone wants to see is a cervical cancer diagnosis become a death sentence for yet another woman in The Bahamas.” 

Stacked with relevant information about The Bahamas, the latest issue of MGH Global OB/GYN Newsletter, also features “The Bahamas at a Glance” section, artwork from Bahamian visual artist Angelika Wallace-Whitfield and further reading suggestions.