Lillian Banda – WNN Breaking
(WNN) Lusaka, ZAMBIA, AFRICA: African governments have been urged to scale up efforts aimed at promoting increased access to health care services for the women and girls as the continents’ first ladies made a public call to stop cervical cancer in Africa during the sixth anniversary year for the SSCA – Stop Cervical Cancer in Africa Conference, held in Lusaka, Zambia recently under the theme: “A New Era in Cervical Cancer Prevention.”
The event has brought a plea to African governments to commit not only to prevention, but also to treatment, palliation and local research efforts.
Delegates at the event outlined the importance of women’s access to health care services as one of the most important keys in addressing cervical and breast cancer. They also appealed to governments and cooperating partners to recognize the essential need to increase the availability of services for all women.
During the event, Zambia’s President H.E Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata has also been commended by women’s advocates for supporting the cause of women and for being the first African president to openly support the SCCA. He was decorated as “Goodwill Ambassador for Women and Children’s Health” to help the regions blighted by the disease.
Cancer of the cervix is the common form of cancer for women in Africa and the leading cause of cancer related mortality among women in developing countries. In Southern Africa the problem is increasingly compounded by the high prevalence of HIV among women.es
According to WHO – the World Health Organization in 2008, there were more than 530 000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide and 275,000 deaths from the disease. Over 90% of them were recorded in developing countries. In the WHO African region, 75,000 new cases were recorded in the same year and 50,000 women died of the disease.
The Zambian region particularly has the second highest incidence of cervical cancer per capita in the world. Almost twice as many women have beenn diagnosed with cervical cancer in the region than women living in the United States. Reports indicate that every year 1,500 plus women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the country. But access to health care services remains a challenge for women in Zambia and the South African region.
“Cancer in Zambia is a growing epidemic… …A diagnosis of cancer often extends beyond the patient and the family into the communities,” says the Zambian Cancer Society, who helped sponsor a mid-morning educational show on Zambia’s ZNBC TV, “Heroes of Hope,” as it highlighted women who are currently battling cervical cancer .
“Cervical cancer is the leading kind of cancer in Zambia. It accounts for 30 percent of all cancers in Zambia today,” explains Dr. Kennedy Lishimpi, director of the Cancer Diseases Hospital located at the University Teaching Hospital in Zambia’s capital city Lusaka, which is the largest referral hospital in Zambia. “The good news is that it is both preventable and curable. But unfortunately most cases reported to Zambian hospitals are in advanced stages,” added Dr. Kennedy.
In early July 2012 former U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush, traveled to Zambia to help paint and refurbish the Ngungu Health Center in Zambia’s second largest city Kabwe, for a program that has been co-funded by the George W. Bush Institute, along with UNAIDS, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, that will help provide funding for more screening, diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.
This program is working through the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign, an initiative working to leverage public and private investments in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer. To work in the fight against cervical cancer in the region The Bush Institute, and its partners, aim to reduce cases of cervical cancer to save lives throughout the continent of Africa.
Dr. Kennedy of the University Teaching Hospital also conveyed that the high incidence of cervical cancer, for Zambian women aged 15 years and above, is approximately 52 per every 100,000 women with a mortality rate of approximately 47 per 100,000.
WNN news correspondent in Lusaka, Zambia, Lillian Banda, reports on human rights and women, health, and society in Zambia.
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