Tanzania: Anti-Cervical Cancer Mission Heightened

Bukoba — KAGERA Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Prof Faustin Kamuzora, has called for concerted efforts to ensure that no woman or girl dies from cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer and cancer-related deaths among women.

He emphasized on the importance of screening for early detection of cervical cancer which can be treated and urged parents and guardians not to miss out on the great opportunity of having their children immunized.

He reassured the public that the vaccine was safe and approved by the government and WHO and would be provided free of charge at all health facilities.

Prof Kamuzora, however, noted that todate, the regional vaccination average against cervical cancer was far below the national average set at 80 per cent with the regional average ranging between 53 -64 per cent.

"More efforts are needed to ensure that no woman dies from cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer and cancer-related deaths among women. Each year, about 7,300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer while more than half of these women die as they are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease," he said.

Kagera Regional Maternal Health Co-ordinator, Ms Neema Kyamba disclosed that about three per cent out of 20,000 women who registered for screening tested positive.

More women should turn up to undergo cervical cancer screening as the problem appearsto start getting worse, he stressed.

Five screening centres were set up in Bukoba Municipal Council- Buhembe, Kashai, Rwamishenye, Bukoba Referral Regional hospital and Zamzam.

At the regional level, 64 centres would provide the service. Tanzania achieved a historical milestone to roll out a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine against cancer of the cervix.

A safe and effective Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine when provided to young girls between 9 and 14 years old, protects them against HPV and cervical cancer.

The Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, launched the programme last year and emphasized on the importance of screening for early detection of cervical cancer which can be treated.

She affirmed the government's commitment to ensure that the vaccination target of 616,734 girls is reached.

She commended the government's decision to introduce HPV vaccine in the country aimed at reducing mortality and morbidity caused by the cervical cancer.

She congratulated the government for making a high-level decision and commitment towards reduction of preventable childhood illnesses and deaths.

"This is an important milestone in the history of Tanzania, to join the fight along with other countries in the world to prevent mortality and morbidity due to cervical cancer. To achieve the full benefit of HPV vaccine, it must be given to all targeted children regardless of where they live or how hard they are to reach.

"Girls aged 14 would be the first beneficiaries of this vaccine as we prepare to extend the vaccination to the rest of the girls. This requires new routine delivery services and a good social mobilisation strategy in order to get the girls to return for their second dose," she said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the use of HPV vaccine as the most cost-effective public health measure against cervical cancer, as part of a comprehensive cervical cancer control strategy.

Cervical cancer has multiple risk factors, such as early marriage, multiple sexual partners, multi parity, sexually transmitted illnesses, including HIV infection, tobacco use, and vitamin deficiency.

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