The countrywide comprehensive cervical cancer prevention campaign is being launched today and it will see girls between the ages of 11 and 15 being vaccinated and women being screened for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women.
When it’s not detected early the precancerous condition grows and later develops into the cervical cancer and spreads to the bladder, the lungs, intestines or the liver. In Rwanda alone, apart from breast cancer, cervical cancer is reported as the top most killer disease among women.
Cervical cancer is caused by the human pappiloma virus, a virus that is spread through sexual intercourse. Other risk factors that also cause cervical cancer include having sexual intercourse at an early age as well as engaging sex with multiple partners and the taking of oral contraceptives.
One of the ways of preventing cervical cancer is through administering the HPV vaccine to young girls who are not yet sexually active. According to research, the right age to vaccinate girls is 12 years. Stephen Rulisa, a gynecologist dealing with gynecological cancers says that it’s also particularly important for women to constantly go for tests.
Though great strides are being made to prevent cervical cancer, there still challenges to be addressed in the process.
Rulisa says one of the biggest challenges they face is that of not having proper equipments in screening and testing of cancer.
The first three years of the national prevention programme will see two partners, Merck provide over 2 million doses of Gardasil to the government at no cost while Qiagen will provide 250,000 HPV screening tests alongside all necessary equipment and training at no cost.