First Lady Monica Chakwera has expressed worry over the proliferation of cervical cancer among women in the country.
Chakwera was speaking Tuesday during a virtual meeting for Southern African Development Community (Sadc) first ladies, where she also assumed the chairpersonship of Sadc first ladies.
She said it was worrisome that Malawi ranks second among countries with the highest number of women that suffer from the cervical cancer burden globally.
“Every year, Malawi loses about 80,000 women to preventable diseases,” Chakwera said.
She urged first ladies to adhere to targets set out in the global strategy, which seeks to ensure that all countries fully vaccinate 90 percent of girls aged between nine and 15 years against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) by 2030.
HPV is transmitted sexually and may cause genital warts and certain kinds of cancer.
“As cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in low and middle-income countries, we should not forget the global strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem launched in November 2020,” Chakwera said.
First ladies from Botswana, Mozambique and Comoros vowed to support Chakwera in the fight against HPV.
Botswana First Lady Neo Masisi said time had come for women to play a leading role in protecting girls from all forms of gender-based violence and diseases in the Sadc region.
“Let’s secure the future of our girls by ensuring that they are vaccinated against HPV,” Masisi said.
Reports indicate that the uptake of HPV vaccination had been challenging even before Covid.
The vaccine protects girls from nine strains of infection transmitted sexually.
Malawi hosted the 41st Sadc Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit from August 9 to 18 2021 and, yesterday, President Lazarus Chakwera assumed the chairpersonship of the regional body.