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Cervical cancer testing vital, women informed

WOMEN in Kagera Region have been asked to turn up in big numbers to undergo cervical cancer screening as the problem appears to start getting worse there.

Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Special Seats Legislator Ms Bernadetha Mushashu, made the call on Wednesday during the launch of a vaccination programme in Bukoba Municipal Council. Kagera Regional Maternal Health Co-ordinator, Ms Neema Kyamba disclosed that about three per cent out of 20,000 women who registered for screening tested positive.

“More women should turn up for cervical cancer screening because there are signs showing an increase of cases,” she said.

According to Ms Kyamba, five screening centres were set up in Bukoba Municipal Council, including Buhembe, Kashai, Rwamishenye, Bukoba Regional Referral hospital and Zamzam. At the regional level, 64 centres would provide the service.

Vice-President Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan launched the programme last year and also emphasized on the importance of screening for early detection of cervical cancer which can be treated.

She affirmed the government’s commitment to ensure the vaccination target of 616,734 girls was reached and urged parents and guardians not to miss out on the ‘great opportunity’ of having their children immunized.

She reassured the public that the vaccine is safe and was approved by the government and WHO, will be provided free of charge at all health facilities.

Tanzania achieved a historic milestone by rolling out a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine against cancer of the cervix, the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Tanzania is among the five countries with the highest rates in Africa.

Cervical cancer has multiple risk factors such as early marriage, multiple sexual partners, multi parity, sexually transmitted Illnesses including HIV infection, tobacco use and vitamin deficiency and HPV infection. Globally, the East African region is the leading burden carrier of cervical cancer.

A safe and effective Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine when provided to young girls between 9 and 14 years old, protects against HPV and cervical cancer. Meanwhile, The African Health Agenda International Conference (Africa Health 2019) kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday.

Over the next three days, government leaders, private sector, health experts and CSO organisations from all over the continent and globally will chart a way forward on how Africa can best reach Universal Health Coverage.

Deliberations will include how to best fund UHC and increase access to quality health to achieve health outcomes. Statistics indicate that two out of three of all maternal deaths globally occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Only six African countries dedicate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the health sector, while over 11 million people are falling into poverty every year due to high out of pocket payments on health.

There are calls to accelerate efforts to reach Universal Health Coverage in African countries.

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Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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