A non-governmental organization, Health Education and Empowerment Initiative, HEDEN, has stressed the need for an early and thorough medical screening by any individual once a sign of cervical cancer is noticed. This, according to the organization, is to ward off the disease and create a new lease of life.
The advice was given by the Executive Director of the organization, Folasade Ofurune, during an awareness programme by the organization at Ijoko-Lemode area, Ifo local government area of Ogun State at the weekend.
Also, the organization urged parents to vaccinate their children, boys and girl, pointing out that cervical cancer is preventable by receiving the Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine before first sex from age 11 or above.
Ofurune described cervical cancer as a fatal disease if left unrecognized and untreated and further stated that it is very important for every woman to undergo regular cervical screening to detect abnormalities.
“Regular cervical smear testing through pap’s test or screening with low cost methods using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) are the most effective ways of detecting cervical abnormalities, which may be the early signs of the disease,” she said.
She expressed confidence that with the support of SFH, screening of women aged between 25 and 60 years will continue in order to diagnose women during the long pre-cancerous phase.
The Executive Director, Ofurune, said the intense campaign in the less developed communities was carried out as a result of the high mortality from cervical cancer.
The awareness programme which was taken to a faith-based women group in Abule-Ijoko, Ogun State, was supported by Society for Family Health, SFH.
The programme included talks, video presentations on symptoms of cervical cancer, its progression, stories of how early detection saves lives, question and answer session and eventual screening and treatment of women who tested positive.
Many of the women who attended the campaign expressed surprise at the subtle signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, stating that they had never heard about cervical cancer before and expressed their appreciation to HEDEN and SFH for bringing the programme to hard-to-reach communities at the grassroots.
Cervical cancer is the commonest genital cancer killing women especially in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the second commonest cancer affecting women in Nigeria. Globally, every two minutes a woman dies from cervical cancer and it is prevalent but not exclusive to the sexually active women in the reproductive (childbearing) years.
According ICO Information Center on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) there are 14,089 cervical cancer cases and 8,240 deaths in Nigeria annually.
The national burden of cervical cancer is high which indicates a great need for awareness, early detection and treatment.
HEDEN envision a world, in which communication saves lives, improves health and enhances well being.
Ofurune said that with the support of Society for Family Health, HEDEN would continue the campaign next year (2017) by extending it to many more communities.
Group and individual counselling were provided by Society for Family Health before and after the cervical screening exercise. The screening was conducted free of charge for women aged 25 – 60 years.
During the programme, about nine positive cases were treated.