Cervical cancer: Group wants Nigerian girls immunised before first sex

In a bid to stem the rising cases of cervical cancer in Nigeria, Health Education and Empowerment Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, has commenced awareness and screening sessions among women in rural communities in Ogun State.

The Information Center on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) says there are 14,089 cervical cancer cases in Nigeria.

It also reports that about 8,240 deaths are recorded annually in the country.

HEDEN said it was driven by the heavy national burden of cervical cancer, which requires increased awareness, early detection and treatment.

The awareness program, which was taken to a faith-based women group in Abule-Ijoko, was supported by Society for Family Health, SFH.

HEDEN reports that of the 51 women that were tested, nine were found positive to the disease.

The program included talks, video presentations on symptoms of cervical cancer, its progression, stories of how early detection saves lives, question and answer session and eventual screening and treatment of women who tested positive

Many of the women expressed surprise at the subtle signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, saying they never heard about cervical cancer before.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of HEDEN, Folasade Ofurune, emphasised the need to go for screening early once a sign is noticed.

She highlighted that cervical cancer was preventable by receiving the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine before first sex from age 11 above.

She urged parents to vaccinate both boys and girl because HPV causes other diseases aside of cervical cancer.

“HEDEN envisions a world, in which communication saves lives, improves health and enhances wellbeing,” she said.

“Thus with the support of Society for Family Health, HEDEN will continue this campaign next year (2017) by extending it to many more communities.”

She further explained that cervical cancer was the commonest genital cancer killing women especially in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that it is the second commonest cancer affecting women in Nigeria.

“Globally, every two minutes a woman dies from cervical cancer. It is prevalent but not exclusive to the sexually active women in the reproductive (childbearing) years,” Mrs. Ofurune said.

“Cervical cancer is fatal if left unrecognized and untreated. It is very important for every woman to undergo regular cervical screening to detect abnormalities.

“Regular cervical smear testing through pap’s test or screening with low cost methods using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) are the most effective ways of detecting cervical abnormalities, which may be the early signs of the disease.”

She expressed confidence that with the support of SFH, screening of women aged between 25 – 60 years will continue in order to diagnose women during the long pre-cancerous phase.