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Decentralise cervical cancer screening – Dr Opoku

In an attempt to tackle the cervical cancer menace in the country, a consultant at the Obstetrics and Gynaecological Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Asah Opoku has called for the decentralisation of cervical cancer screening.

According to him 3,052 women are diagnosed yearly of the disease while 1,556 women die annually from the disease.

He said there was also an average record of one death every five hours in the country which he described as alarming.

Dr Asah Opoku said this on Friday, when he interacted with journalists at the launch of the World Cervical Cancer Day at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra. 

The event which was on the theme “Cervical cancer prevention: collective responsibility,” had staff of the Obstetrics and Gynaecological Department and other departments of the hospital in attendance.

 He said only 2.7 per cent of the 3,052 diagnosed go for cervical cancer screening every three years and that 32.7 per cent of cancer cases among women were cervical cancer related cases, saying it is the commonest gynaecological cancer at the hospital.

Dr Asah Opoku said the number of deaths could reduce drastically when community health nurses and other health personnel in the communities were trained to provide cervical cancer screening in communities across the country.

He said this would allow the women to frequent health facilities as most of them are unable to visit the health facilities due to distance and reduce the number of deaths among women.  

“If we say people should always move to the hospitals to get screened, we are never going to get them, it is that young lady, who will never come to the hospital that would get the cancer,hence the need to send the screening to them,” Dr Asah Opoku explained.

Dr Asah Opoku indicated that, the reason for Ghana not making much impact in the fight against cervical cancer was the cost for treatment.

He said the cost for screening ranges between GH¢60- GH¢150 with the vaccine costing about GH¢750 adding that stakeholders in the health sector need to deliberate on ways of reducing the price for screening so as not to drain their budget.

Dr Asah Opoku suggested that cervical cancer screening could be included in health insurance scheme just as it was done in other countries with girls as low as eight years being screened.

He called on government and stakeholders to put in place a national cervical screening programme that would reduce the burden of cervical cancer as the disease is preventable.

Mr Vincent Owusu Ansong from Merck, a United States based multinational pharmaceutical company said 81 per cent of women in the country could be saved through vaccination with three options of treatment available.

He urged the government and stakeholders in the health sector to prioritise vaccination while ensuring its affordability for women.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations are administered to prevent infections such as cervical cancer among women.


BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU

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