In a bid to stem the rising cases of cervical cancer in Nigeria, Health Education and Empowerment Initiative, HEDEN, a non-governmental organisation, has commenced awareness and screening sessions among women in rural communities in Ogun State.
Information Centre on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has it that there are 14,089 cervical cancer cases in Nigeria.
It also reported that about 8,240 deaths is recorded annually in the country.
HEDEN said it was driven by the heavy national burden of cervical cancer, which pinpoints the dire need of awareness, early detection and treatment.
The awareness programme, which was taken to a faith-based women group in Abule-Ijoko, was supported by Society for Family Health, SFH.
HEDEN said of the 51 women that were tested, nine were found positive to the disease.
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 expressed surprise at the subtle signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, saying they never heard about the disease before.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of HEDEN, Folasade Ofurune, emphasized the need to go for screening early once a sign is noticed.
She highlighted that cervical cancer can be prevented by receiving the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine before first sex from age 11 above.
She urged parents to vaccinate both boys and girls, because HPV causes other diseases aside cervical cancer.
“HEDEN envisions a world, in which communication saves lives, improves health and enhances well being,” she said.
“Thus with the support of Society for Family Health, HEDEN will continue this campaign next year (2017) by extending it to many more communities.”
She further explained that cervical cancer was the most common genital cancer killing women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that it is the second most common cancer affecting women in Nigeria.
“Globally, every two minutes a woman dies from cervical cancer. It is prevalent but not exclusive to the sexually active women in the reproductive (childbearing) years,” Mrs. Ofurune said.
“Cervical cancer is fatal if left unrecognised and untreated. 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 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.