Vaccinate girls and women against cervical cancer – Govt urged

Mrs Cecilia Senoo

Mrs Cecilia Senoo

The government has been urged to urgently invest in the vaccination of young girls and women against cervical cancer to reduce mortality rate across the country.

“The treatments for cervical cancer are quite expensive and most people are unable to afford, so they live with the disease and eventually die,” Mrs Cecilia Senoo, Chief Executive Officer of the Hope for Future Generation (HFFG), a youth and women-focused non-governmental organisation, said.

Speaking with the Ghanaian Times yesterday on the commemoration of World Cancer Day (WCD), Mrs Senoo expressed worry over the high prevalence of cervical cancer in the country, adding “the government must invest in immunising girls with the HPV vaccines to protect those yet to be exposed to sex to reduce the death rates.”

According to her, available statistics showed that about 3,151 new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in Ghana last year with 2,119 women dying from the disease.

“About nine million women living in the country are at risk of the disease and it is on the rise among young people because they are now exposed to sexual activities at very early stages. This is the time we must pay attention to cervical cancer because it is curable.

“It must be integrated into our national health programmes. We must have a multi-sectorial commitment to ensure the availability of affordable basic technologies and essential medicines to control the infection. With little resources and commitment from government and partner stakeholders, we can reduce all forms of cancer to achieve goal three of the sustainable development goals,” she stated.

Mrs Senoo further entreated Ghanaian women to test for signs of cervical cancer as early as possible to avoid “late-stage presentation of cervical cancer while the men also encouraged their partners to go for regular cervical cancer screenings at designated health facilities.”

Cervical cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide and fourth leading cause of death in women, is a cancer arising from the cervix due to abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.

According to available studies, factors including sex at a tender age, multiple sexual partners, weak immune system, smoking, among others, exposed women to the disease which develops from precancerous stages over a 10 to 20 year period.

Later symptoms of cervical cancer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse. In Ghana, though treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgeries are available, the high cost of it prevented women from undergoing treatment for the disease.

WCD is thus celebrated each year on February 4, to rally international communities towards scaling up efforts on meeting the 2025 global target, to reduce the burden of cancer worldwide through increased awareness creation, prevention, detection and treatment.

This year’s celebration is on the theme: “I am, I will.”

By Abigail Annoh

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