WASHINGTON, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched a communication campaign aimed at preventing cervical cancer, which kills more than 34,000 women annually in the Americas, including the Caribbean.
PAHO describes the disease as being among the leading causes of cancer death in women in 23 countries of the region.
“Time to End Cervical cancer”
It said the campaign titled “It is Time to End Cervical Cancer” is a designed to inform health providers and empower women and girls with health information on how to prevent this disease, which is diagnosed in some 72,000 women each year.
With the slogan, “Don’t let cervical cancer stop you,” the campaign provides materials, information and stories about the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer and about cervical cancer screening methods, to encourage women to have regular examinations for the early detection of precancerous lesions.
Preventive care crucial
PAHO said the ultimate goal is to mobilize health providers, women and girls to seek preventive care and stop cervical cancer from keeping women from reaching their maximum potential in life.
“By being informed about cervical cancer and how to prevent it, we can help to ensure that women lead healthy, productive lives,” said Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of the PAHO Department of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health.
“We have the tools to prevent cervical cancer from being a threat to the health and well-being of women, their families, and communities.”
PAHO said cervical cancer can be prevented with HPV vaccination and with screening. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls ages nine to 14 and is available in 35 countries and territories of the region. However, in the majority of countries, the HPV vaccine coverage rate with the recommended two doses, has not yet reached 80 per cent of the target population.
In addition to providing information about cervical cancer vaccination, the campaign also aims to raise awareness about cervical cancer screening, which is recommended primarily for women aged 30 to 49 years. An estimated 32 million women in the region are eligible for cervical cancer screening, which, when coupled with treatment, can save lives.
The web-based campaign has a section for health professionals that contains guides, factsheets, answers to frequently asked questions, and a free online course, all aimed at building knowledge of the issue and improving HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening.
In September, Health Ministers from the Americas agreed, at the PAHO Directing Council meeting, on a plan to reduce cervical cancer by a third in the region by 2030.
To accomplish this, the plan aims to strengthen primary prevention through information and education and HPV vaccination, as well as improve cervical cancer screening and treatment of precancerous lesions, and strengthen access to cancer diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.