Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The World Health Organisation has launched a new global initiative to eliminate cervical cancer. It calls for 90 per cent of all girls to be vaccinated by the age of 15 and 70 per cent of women to be screened for the disease at least twice between 35 and 45 years.
In addition to this, 90 per cent of women identified with cervical will receive treatment by 2050. According to the WHO, investing in the above interventions can generate substantial economic and societal returns. It is estimated that if governments invest, they could make returns as high as three dollars for every dollar spent.
In Uganda, 6,413 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. An estimated 4,301 women are believed to succumb to the disease. Globally the number of new cases reported annually stand as high as 570,000 cases.
To celebrate the launch of the initiative that is estimated will reduce the number of new cases by 40 per cent and prevent as many as five million related deaths by 2050, the Nile Bridge in Njeru was lit with green neon lights
Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization-UNEPI says that the launch of the initiative will help reduce the numbers of cervical cancer in the country.
“Cervical cancer is a very big issue in the country and many of the initiatives that we have tried to set up don’t seem to be working. With member states signed up, the government will now be forced to spend more on the elimination of the disease,” Dr Driwale said.
Dr Driwale says that cervical cancer is a preventable disease if people get immunised with the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine but often some children do not complete the dose. Two doses of the vaccine are needed for the vaccine to be effective.
Without taking part in this initiative, the number of new cervical cancer cases is estimated to rise globally from 570,000 to 700,000 between 2018 and 2030. The annual deaths are also expected to rise from 311,000 to 400,000.
The WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says eliminating cervical cancer is a human health problem that can easily be eliminated if the proper tools are used.
“Eliminating any cancer would have once seemed an impossible dream, but we now have the cost-effective, evidence-based tools to make that dream a reality. But we can only eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem if we match the power of the tools we have with unrelenting determination to scale up their use globally,” he said.