Ghana losing too many young women to cervical cancer

cervical cancer

Dr. Promise Sefogah, the General Secretary of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Ghana, has raised an alarm about the increasing loss of young women to cervical in the country. Out of Ghana's 30 million population, approximately 10 million women aged 15 and above are at risk of developing cervical cancer.

“Every year, we diagnose nearly 3,000 cases, and out of this, almost 1,700 people die from the disease,” Dr Sefogah stated in an interview with the . He expressed concern that most cases are diagnosed at late stages, limiting the possibilities of effective intervention.

Cervical cancer ranks as the fourth most common cancer among women globally and the second most common in Ghana, being the leading cause of death for women due to its high mortality rate. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is identified as the cause, primarily transmitted through unprotected sex. Symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, offensive vaginal discharge, back pain, and weight loss in advanced stages.

Dr Sefogah dispelled claims that certain family planning methods, particularly Intrauterine Devices (IUD), cause cervical cancer. He emphasized that IUDs are effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and do not contribute to the development of cervical cancer. However, he highlighted that individuals with IUDs engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners could be exposed to HPV.

The Gynaecologist emphasized the importance of Pap smear screenings and vaccinations in preventing cervical cancer. “For every woman, it is important to do pap smear screening every year. When you screen and you are negative, then we can recommend that you take the vaccine,” he added.

Ghana losing too many young women to cervical cancer

Despite the availability of an effective vaccine, financial barriers have hindered many women from accessing vaccination. Dr Sefogah called on the Government to eliminate financial obstacles, making vaccines more accessible and incorporating them into routine vaccination packages in Ghana.

Dr Hilda Mantebea Boye, President of the Pediatric Society of Ghana, stressed the significance of vaccinating children before they become sexually active. Advocating for vaccination starting at the age of nine, she highlighted the need to reduce the risk of infection among children.

Dr. Boye, also a Maternal and Child Health advocate, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about cervical cancer through advocacy, teaching, training, free screenings, and sensitization programs across the country. Collaborative efforts with selected hospitals and engagements in schools and markets aim to educate young girls and mothers about the disease.

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