Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has purchased a cervical cancer screening machine for the Catholic Hospital, Battor in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region.
The machine which costs $16,000 will be used by the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Training Centre in Battor for screening women to detect and treat precancerous lesions of the cervix so that they do not develop into cervical cancer.
The purchase of the machine, the AmpFire HPV Detection System produced by Atila Biosystems Inc in the USA, is a huge relief for the Catholic Hospital Battor.
The implications are huge for all women in Ghana. The gesture by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu District brings down the cost of screening for a woman to GHS 100 from GHS 150, if the hospital had purchased the machine and transferred the cost to women to be screened.
The AmpFire HPV Detection Assay is a simple, but very sensitive HPV DNA test that makes it possible for same day screening, follow up and treatment. Up to 500 tests can be run in a day by a single laboratory technician, giving results in an hour.
The gesture by Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa will revolutionise cervical cancer prevention in Ghana. Women can take samples themselves at home and have the samples (brushes) sent to the laboratory to be tested. Those who test negative will not need to visit a health facility and will need screening after five years. Only women who test positive need to go to a health facility for follow up and possible treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix if these are found.
Worldwide, over half a million women are diagnosed every year with cervical cancer with over 85 percent of these women in developing countries. Many developed countries have successfully reduced the incidence of cervical cancer by instituting organised cervical cancer prevention programmes involving vaccination and screening to detect precancerous lesions of the cervix, and treating them before they develop into cancer. Unfortunately, Ghana has no HPV vaccination programme or an organised cervical cancer screening programme.
Ghana is estimated to have a population of 8.57 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer.
In Ghana, cervical cancer is ranked as the second most common cancer among women. Current estimates indicate that every year, 3,052 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, out of which 1,556 die from the disease in Ghana.
Dr. Kofi Effah, Head of the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Training Centre who made an appeal two months ago to the Honourable Member of Parliament thanked him on behalf of hospital management for his exemplary leadership and continuous interest in the progress of the Battor Catholic Hospital.