The African Cancer Organisation (ACO) has called on government to develop a coherent and comprehensive cervical cancer control plan and scale-up effective programmes and resources, appropriate for citizens.
It reiterated that it was necessary for government to establish a technical working group to develop an effective national cervical cancer elimination strategy and implementation plan to ensure that women’s needs and perspectives were well represented.
The ACO, which made the call in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Mr Paul Opoku Agyemang, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said Ghana had a long journey towards achieving the elimination threshold of four annual cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women and the current incidence of cervical cancer being about 33/100,000 women per year.
Madam Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), was quoted as saying: “Our second call is for the government to make a public commitment to the 2030 targets. These targets will bring true momentum to providing girls and women with the health care they needed to thrive.”
“UICC salutes WHO’s leadership in championing this cause, inspiring countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer to also commit to elimination,” she added.
Caused by infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), the statement said cervical cancer was the fourth most common cancer among women globally.
Despite being preventable, it is also a serious issue in Africa and in Ghana, 3,151 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year across the nation.
The statement said the adoption of the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy, “Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control: Accelerating the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem,” represented a milestone in the fight against cancer.
It explained that the strategy emphasised the need for the integrated implementation of services within communities, ensuring equity in access and financial protection for all women.
It also outlined the three pillars of cervical cancer elimination – HPV vaccination, cervical screening and treatment, which provides concrete targets to be achieved by the year 2030.
“The African Cancer Organisation stands ready to work in partnership with other national stakeholders to ensure that these global commitments are taken forward in Ghana and other African countries,” the statement said.
The ACO also intends to mobilise community support and play a lead role in building knowledge and confidence in key prevention and early detection services, to save lives as it worked towards the elimination goal, the statement added.
Mr Paul Opoku Agyemang, the Executive Director of the African Cancer Organisation, said: “We want all women in Ghana to know about cervical cancer. They must be informed about the risk factors, signs and symptoms and where to go for help. Women who are eligible, must be able to easily access screening services available.
“However, we also want our community to be knowledgeable and support girls and women in prevention to maintain a healthy cervix.”
WHO Member States, the statement said adopted the strategy alongside other health resolutions as part of the silence procedure launched after the last World Health Assembly in May.
The adoption sends a strong signal of worldwide interest in progressing on these important public health issues, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.