Women walking past a cancer screening tent Photo/thestar.co.ke

Cervical cancer, which one of the most preventable and curable malignancy remains a great threat to women’s health.

Annually, more than 300,000 women die due to cervical cancer in the world  with Kenya recording an increase of about 5,000 deaths since 2012 and more than 6,000 new cases.

The rising cervical cancer deaths is crippling the medical advancement made for women in maternal health and HIV care.

Sadly, nine out of 10 women who die from it are from developing countries, but each death caused by cervical cancer can be prevented and early treatment has been proven to be cost-effective.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently working to have all girls world-wide vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is a virus that is commonly transmitted sexually. It is known to cause cervical cancer if left untreated.

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“Young girls and boys can be vaccinated against the virus to reduce the global impact of cervical cancer. The immunization should be carried out to the young ones aged between 9-14 years before they are sexually active and are exposed to HPV. This is because when a person is once infected by the virus, then the vaccine against the virus might not be as effective or cannot work at all,” states Chemtai Mungo an obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of California.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in the country has initiated an immunization campaign against HPV virus for girls aged 9-14 years.

The Cabinet Secretary of Health Sicily Kariuki has cited that MoH will use the quadrivalent vaccine which fights HPV18, HPV16, HPV11 and HPV6 viruses which are linked to genital warts.

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Boys also can still be vaccinated against types of HPV connected to cervical cancer as it will help to protect the girls from the transmission of the virus.

With advancement in technology women can easily and comfortably perform a test on themselves with the HPV-self test.

“The HPV test further produces the results on the same day giving women who tested positive an opportunity to seek early treatment. This not only can prevent cervical cancer in women but also save many lives,” said Ms Mungo.

WHO is also working to ensure older women can easily access screening diagnosis, treatment of invasive cancers at early stages and availability of soothing care for the patients.

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Early screening of cervical cancer through pap-smear has nonetheless been a challenge to third world countries due to lack of adequate resources.

Statistically, only 3-5 percent of Kenyan women have undergone the screening process for cancer.

Successful treatment can be administered to women who have had an early detection of cervical cancer.

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According to WHO, political commitment from governments around the world and international cooperations are needed to implement cost-effective measures, strategies for resource mobilization and support equitable access towards elimination of cervical cancer.

“Elimination of cervical cancer as a global health problem is within reach for all countries. We know what works, and we now need to scale up our actions to prevent and control this disease,” said Dr Princes Simelela, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health.

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