LGHI Statement on World Cancer Day 2017
26 women die of cervical cancer every day in Nigeria and 48 million Nigerian women above 15 years are at risk of cervical cancer. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) serotypes 16 and 18 have been implicated in almost all the reported cases of cervical cancer. Some of the risk factors include; debut of sexual activity before the age of 20 years old, multiple sexual partners, tobacco smoking, immune depression due to malnutrition or disease states such as HIV/AIDS, use of oral contraceptives for more than 5 years, and family history of cervical cancer.
The burden of cervical cancer in developing countries including Nigeria is significantly higher than developed countries due to several factors which include: lack of awareness; poverty; inadequate health facilities and infrastructure; lack of priority for women’s health; lack of political will; attitudes, beliefs and misconceptions about cervical cancer control; among others.
Evidence from developed countries showdeath due to cervical cancer is preventable.According to World Health Organization (WHO), primary prevention of cervical cancer begins with HPV vaccination of girls aged 9 – 13 years before they become sexually active. It is also very important that women between the ages of 30 and 49 get screened for cervical cancer because if pre-cancerous cells are detected early, it can be treated. Early detection and treatment has prevented up to 80% of cervical cancer in developed countries.
In alignment with the mission of LGHI to improve health and well-being of vulnerable populations, LGHI launched #SaveTheCervix campaign in October 2015 to reduce cervical cancer burden in Nigeria by creating awareness on HPV vaccination for adolescents and cervical cancer screening among women. So far, we have had over 400,000 social media reach on the core advocacy message of #SaveTheCervix and facilitated the cervical cancer screening for women in Gyigyi and Sharuwadna rural communities in Nigeria.
On this World Cancer Day 2016, we call on political leaders, policy makers, government agencies, private institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders to join hands to improve the infrastructure of health facilities across the country and to invest in HPV vaccination for adolescents across the country.
We believe, that together we #SaveTheCervix and achieve cervical cancer free Nigeria.