The Ministry of Health has participated in the first ever Global Strategy to ‘Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer’ which was launched on Tuesday November 17 by the World Health Organisation.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Uganda with more than 4,300 deaths and 6,400 new cases recorded in 2018 according to Dr Henry Mwebesa, Director General Services at the Health Ministry.
Dr. Mwebesa revealed that cervical cancer is largely preventable through simple and inexpensive interventions such as vaccination and effective screening. He noted that uptake of these cost effective measures has, unfortunately, been low in Uganda.
The Ministry of Health has, however, employed various interventions to deal with the raging cases of cervical cancer.
Dr. Mwebesa stated that the Ministry has established a National Cervical Cancer Control Program with a comprehensive strategy to defeat cervical cancer using a 3 pronged approach that includes; Primary prevention through introduction and scale up of vaccination of young girls in and out of school against Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV) which is the primary cause of cervical cancer.
Secondary prevention through screen-and- treat interventions, allowing for early detection and treatment of pre-cancer and targeting for most at risk women who may have been exposed to HPV, in order to prevent progression to cancer.
Tertiary prevention through detection of cancer and referral for diagnosis and treatment with surgery, radiotherapy and or chemotherapy, and palliative care for patients who need it, targeting all women with suspected or confirmed cervical cancer.
Under primary prevention, he said, the HPV was adopted in 2015 as part of routine immunisation schedule targeting 10 year old girls in both school and community based approaches to HPV vaccine delivery.
“To date, many young girls have been vaccinated against HPV securing their lives against cervical cancer,” he added.
With secondary prevention, the Ministry, together with partners, is expanding screening and treatment of cervical pre-cancer to more public health facilities including lower level health centre IIIs with the aim of decentralizing and taking the services close to the population.
Dr. Mwebesa said that the Ministry has started rolling out thermal ablation, a novel World Health Organisation recommended treatment technology that is effective for the management of cervical pre-cancerous lesions. He noted that the treatment will be available at health centre IIIs and above.
Tertiary prevention comprises of the various services that are offered at the Uganda Cancer Institute such as cervical screening, cryotherapy and thermal ablation, LEEP, cervical biopsy/ histopathological diagnosis, hysterectomy, radiation, chemotherapy and palliative care.
“These interventions will ultimately reduce the risk of women developing cervical cancer by ensuring that women access screening services and that all those that screen positive for cervical pre-cancer are offered the appropriate treatment,” he said.
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