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Tuesday February 27, 2024

Call for launching awareness drive against cervical cancer

January 21, 2023

Islamabad : Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, has stressed the need for launching country-wide awareness campaigns to bust the myths regarding female cancer and how to prevent it.

Dr Soomro was speaking at a panel discussion on “Screening and prevention of female cancer” organised here by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Dr Soomro said that several health campaigns were launched in Pakistan but they failed due to negative and false propaganda orchestrated against them. She stressed targeting the youth in academic institutions and engaging with teachers to raise awareness for the prevention of cancers in women.

She said our healthcare officials not only lack new skills and training to diagnose and treat such diseases but also are unaware of doing proper counselling of women to get treatment after diagnosis. She suggested increasing engagement with ulema and religious scholars in addition to conducting robust media campaigns to promote awareness about the prevention and treatment of female cancer.

Dr Sayeda Batool said that Pakistan has less prevalence of cervical cancer compared to India, but despite this, 6000 cases of cervical cancer are reported each year in Pakistan causing about 3,000 deaths. She stressed that the basic treatment options are crucial to prevent prevalence in adult women while vaccinations are a more futuristic approach and would bear fruit after a few decades. She stressed the need for a holistic approach to prevention and treatment while kick-starting vaccination of 15-year-old girls and cost-effective screening and visual inspection at home to bridge lacunas in screening and testing.

Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, Vice-Chancellor of, Health Services Academy, said that “early screening and early detection is the optimal solution” to prevent the prevalence of various kinds of cancers. He stressed on equipping primary healthcare systems with adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities and training and capacity building to eradicate system delays. He also suggested making a mechanism to conduct the accountability of health professionals in case of negligence or wrong treatment.

Dr Rubina Mushtaq elucidated that rampant poverty in many parts of the country created barriers to access to even basic healthcare facilities. She highlighted that 14 million new cases of infection due to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are reported annually the world over and 79 million men and women are infected with HPV at any given time, making it the most common sexually transmitted disease. She further said that cervical cancer related to HPV is the second most prevalent cancer among women.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said that in our battle against cancer, awareness about the availability of vaccines for cervical cancer and making their administration mandatory and effective is crucial. He called for increasing the frequency of debate and discussion about early detection and screening of cancer.