CSIS traveled to Zambia to document the ways that cervical cancer impacts women in the country. Janet Fleischman and Julia Nagel spoke with provincial coordinator for the cervical cancer screening program Dr. Joan Katema. She told them that the attention has been on issues like HIV/AIDS, while women continue to die from cervical cancer. “But we’d still find that despite [women] accessing the ARVs and all the services that come with the ART clinic, they were still dying from cervical cancer,” she said.
Watch the video to learn more and here is a further explanation of what is being done in Zambia to address cervical cancer.
The Zambian government has also been very engaged in PRRR, led by the first lady, Dr. Christine Kaseba Sata, an obstetrician and gynecologist herself. The impact of this leadership is apparent, according to a nurse supervisor with the cervical cancer program: “We’ve been encouraged a lot by our women leaders in this country… including the First Lady. She’s been talking about cervical cancer screening and [its] importance a lot on TV, on radio, and so as a result, we’ve seen that a lot of women have reacted positively, received the message and have come in for screening.”
By: Alexandra Steverson, Program Assistant for the Southern Africa Region*
Globally, one woman dies every two minutes from cervical cancer. As the second most common cancer among women, there are 530,000 new cases every year. The developing world is disproportionately burdened by this disease - 86% of cases occur in developing countries where prevention services are limited or unavailable. In some environments, the mortality rate is as high as 52%.
We know that infection with one of many strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a leading cause of cervical cancer. The good news is that it can be prevented. Screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions is the most cost effective method of preventing the disease and creating positive health impact in low-resource settings. However, less than 5% of women in developing countries have accessed screening services. With simple, low-cost interventions, organization like PSI can improve health outcomes for a population that is often neglected, women around the world.
The good news is that a vaccine against HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer, can greatly reduce the number of infections. “Cervical cancer is preventable through vaccines and screening tests. Making sure these tools reach the most vulnerable women is critical, of course, but so are efforts to educate women about the disease. Accurate, culturally-sensitive information and access to care are an unbeatable combination,” said ASHA/NCCC President and CEO Lynn B. Barclay in a press release calling for the prevention of cervical cancer.
The Union for International Cancer Control is sponsoring a pair of Cervical Cancer Action webinars this month that will lead discussions on addressing the problem of cervical cancer in Africa and South America. Members of the PSI team will be participating in discussion and we hope that you will join us.
Check out the details below:
A cervical cancer free Africa: regional solutions for lasting change Wednesday, 16 January
Webinar will last 90 minutes, beginning at 9:00 AM EST
Early efforts to improve screening and early treatment for women and to introduce HPV vaccine to girls are beginning to pick up speed across the continent. Many governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are taking bold steps to prevent cervical cancer, but their action may be impeded by common myths and misconceptions. During this 90-minute discussion, regional experts will describe the progress made to date in Africa and describe emerging opportunities, available expertise, and tools to help countries reshape the future of this tragic, and entirely preventable, disease.
By Deputy Editor Tom Murphy. The following post is written in conjunction with PRI The World’s series on cancer. Go here to learn more.
A recent WHO assessment of Rwanda’s capacity to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) found that country failed on every measure. Except for having a branch in the Ministry of Health that addresses NCDs. In between the lines of the assessment, and captured within the Ministry of Health, is a major push by Rwanda to take on cancer.
The Rwandan Ministry of Health is implementing preventative structures to reduce the incidence of cancer. For women, that means improving access to breast cancer screenings and a national HPV plan. Cancer is responsible for 5% of deaths in Rwanda each year. As a point of comparison, cancer is accounts for 23% of all deaths in the United States.
Professor Ian Frazer, inventior of the HPV vaccine, speaks on the connection between cervical cancer and HPV. Cervical cancer is a global burden that reaches women in the developing world. Frazer argues that making the vaccine to more people will save many lives. Also, he discusses his path to developing the HVP vaccine.
Get the Daily Impact Delivered Directly to Your Inbox