World Health Organisation (WHO)’s latest move to adopt the global strategy on cervical cancer has attracted a positive reaction from women in Malawi.
United Nations member states adopted the strategy alongside other health resolutions as part of the silence procedure during the last World Health Assembly held in May this year.
WHO is expected to launch the ‘Global Strategy, Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control: Accelerating the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem’ tomorrow [November 17].
Local non-governmental organisation, Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (Wocaca) has said launch of the strategy would raise the profile of cancer and increase nations’ monetary contributions to the fight against the disease.
Wocaca Executive Director Maud Mwakasungula indicates in a statement that adoption of the strategy represents a milestone in the fight against cancer.
“The adoption sends a strong signal of worldwide interest in progressing on these important public health issues, despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mwakasungula says in the statement.
Mwakasungula says the new strategy, which emphasises the need for the integrated implementation of services within communities, will ensure equity in accessing health services.
“Our appeal therefore is for development partners to provide more resources to support government and civil society organisations so that they effectively fight cervical cancer to meet WHO’s targets by 2030,” Mwakasungula says.
Last month, Wocaca launched a programme aimed at promoting access to quality cervical cancer services in Malawi.
Meanwhile, Media Aids and Health Watch Programmes Officer, Adilu Yusuf, has backed Mwakasungula’s call for increased access to cancer screening services, saying cervical cancer was one of the greatest challenges facing women today.
“In short, a multi-sectoral approach, as well as gender-neutral approach, are needed to defeat cervical cancer,” he said.
Recently, Chatinkha Maternity Care (Chamaca) Ward of the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, led by its Chairperson Frank Taulo, conducted an 80-kilometre cycling awareness tour for cervical cancer from Blantyre to Mulanje.
Taulo said the event was organised after he observed that women in rural areas do not have access to cancer screening services.
“There are several cancers that affect women but the common ones in Malawi are cervical and breast cancer,” Taulo said.
Malawi has the highest rates of cervical cancer and mortality in the world with age standardised rate of 75.9 and 49.8 per 100,000 people, respectively.
Cervical cancer accounts for 45.4 percent of all cancers in women and the trend is increasing. Ministry of Health statistics indicate that, every year, over 2,300 women develop cervical cancer and over 1,600 die from the disease.
The Ministry of Health has been implementing the ‘screen-and-treat’ programme through its HPV immunisation programme since January 2019.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.