Health News of 2014-07-24

33,000 girls vaccinated against cervical cancer

More than 33,000 girls aged nine to 13 have been vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) to protect them from cervical cancer in the country.

The beneficiaries were from 17 districts in the Northern, Central and Greater Accra regions as part of the HPV demonstration vaccination pilot programme, which was launched in November, 2013. The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, announced this at the eighth Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference, Windhoek, Namibia.

She said three rounds of the vaccination processes, covering the 33,000 girls, were successfully completed with support from Global Alliance for Vaccines Immunisation (GAVI) and United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF). The conference was on the theme "Moving forward to end cervical cancer by 2030’’. She explained that the pilot vaccination programme was to document lessons for a future upscale into a nationwide programme.

According to her, Ghana was also negotiating with GAVI to extend its vaccination support period from five years to 10 to consolidate progress in combating non-communicable and communicable diseases.

She further stated that the government had put in place some interventions to respond to the disease, including equipping the two national cancer centres at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, which offered comprehensive cancer services, including radiotherapy.

She said the Lordina Foundation would continue to support national health efforts through its campaign on breast and cervical cancers and HIV and AIDS to complement government’s engagements in health delivery.

While acknowledging that there were challenges, Mrs Mahama called on governments, development partners and corporate bodies to allocate resources to make prevention and treatment tools more affordable.

"To achieve the goal of moving forward to end cervical cancer by 2030, and to make that vision a reality, all stakeholders needed to play their role to ensure that no woman died of cervical cancer", she stated.

In her presentation, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, said studies indicated that about 14,550 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in Nigeria, with projections of about 22,914 cases by the year 2030.

Mrs Jonathan said her foundation, the A-Aruera Reachout, had not relented in educating and empowering women to go for regular check-ups and promoting strategic and legal framework for the implementation of the national cancer policy.

The Deputy Director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Kwaku Aning, in his presentation on "Moving beyond shadows shining a light on Africa fight against cancer", said there were lots of myths surrounding cancer, including perceptions that cancer was not curable.

He said the myth restricted people from ensuring early detection, accessing health care and receiving treatment. He added that radiotherapy, which was one form of treatment of cancer, was limited on the African continent, adding that the agency was working hard to ensure that its member states received the necessary support to combat cancer.

Mr Aning, therefore, underscored the need for human resource development in palliative care with strong political commitments to address the cancer challenges on the continent.

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