Cervical cancer a leading cause of death among women

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-The Superintendent of Windhoek Central hospital, Dr David Uirab, said on Wednesday that cervical cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Namibia.

Uirab said during a meeting attended by the former United States of America president, George W Bush and his wife Laura, that HIV has increased the susceptibility of women to contracting cervical cancer. He said there is a general misunderstanding and disbelief about cancer in general and that is “one of the reasons why many of our women present very late for cervical cancer [screening].”

Namibia has a recorded an 18.1 percent incidence of cervical cancer and the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in women over 15 years is 13.3 percent, while women over 15 years living with HIV/AIDS number 120,000, according to statistics obtained from the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon organisation, a global partnership fighting women’s cancers.

New Era previously cited the Cancer Association of Namibia’s CEO, who said cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer worldwide and can be prevented with effectiveness of up to 80 percent through regular screening (pap smears), committing to safe sexual practices especially, as well as human papillomavirus (HPV) injections.

Bush, who advocated for continued PEPFAR (US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) funding, said many women who have been saved from HIV are dying of cervical cancer and urged women in Namibia to go for screening and to get treatment early for cervical cancer to increase their chances of surviving the disease.

The World Health Organisation recommends screening women in the 30 to 49 age group for cervical cancer and treating detected pre-cancerous lesions as a prevention tool.
Uirab said one of the challenges in the fight against cervical cancer is that there are not enough local facilities that screen for cervical cancer. He stressed the need to decentralise clinical services for vaccination against HPV.

He further said the programme to vaccinate women against the virus in state facilities would be launched by the end of 2017.

Most women who want to be vaccinated against HPV currently have to seek the services of private doctors.

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