Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer women suffer in Bangladesh, with approximately 6,000 of them dying annually.
At least 12,000 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed every year.
The primary reason for high incidence and deaths by cervical cancer has been identified as absence of cervical cancer screening facilities, oncologists and health officials said Monday at a programme for Dissemination of National Strategy for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Bangladesh.
The Health Services organsied the programme where health minister Mohammad Nasim launched the National Strategy for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Bangladesh.
Cervical cancer can be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted virus, said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University gynecological oncology professor Ashrafunnessa.
Though almost 90 per cent of HPV infections are cleared naturally by the immune system, persistent infections can increase the risk of cervical cancer by leading to the development of precancerous lesions that can progress to cervical cancer over a period of about 10 years, she said in her keynote paper.
These precancerous lesions can be diagnosed and removed using simple and effective outpatient procedures, but since they do not cause any clinical symptoms, they can only be identified by cervical screening, she said.
It is estimated that in Bangladesh, over 30 million women aged 30 to 60 need screening to find out whether or not they were suffering from cervical cancer, Ashrafunnessa said.
Presiding over the function, Health Services director general Abul Kalam Azad said the national strategy for Bangladesh was designed to reduce the incidence, prevalence, morbidity and mortality caused by cervical cancer through a coordinated and refined screening, detection, and management.
Health minister Mohammad Nasim said cancer prevalence was increasing in Bangladesh as across the world, but awareness could reduce cancer incidence.
‘We have to emphasize on prevention of cervical cancer with a social movement to raise awareness,’ he said.
Nasim said the country’s 431 health facilities currently performing Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid screening of cervical cancer and over 2,000 health care providers had been trained on screening.
‘People have to utilize the screening centres and the health care providers have to work sincerely,’ he said.
Health secretary GM Saleh Uddin said the mostly marginalized and backward women suffer cervical cancer.
They even don’t disclose the incident of cervical cancer to the family members because of taboo, he said, calling for mass screening of the cancer.
The national strategy mandated for vaccination of cervical cancer vaccine for the adolescent girls not above 15 years of old. The vaccination before the first sexual intercourse protect the girls from its incidence throughout the life.
The strategy requires screening middle age women and others alongside palliative care for the elderly women who could not get cured.
World Health Organisation country representative Bardan Jung Rana and UNFPA chief of health Sathyanarayanan Doraiswamy agreed to work for eradication of cervical cancer from Bangladesh.
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