'Need for National Plan to Combat Cervical Cancer'

Published: 30th August 2015 06:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2015 06:05 AM   |  A+A-

VELLORE:The need for an all-India-level population-based cervical cancer screening programme and a national-level plan to combat cervical cancer through vaccinations was stressed upon during the three-day Asia Oceania Conference on Genital Infections and Neoplasia (AOGIN) at the Christian Medical College, which concluded on Saturday. Twenty-five faculty-delegates from 15 countries and over 250 delegates from across the country took part in the meet.

Professor Shalini Rajaram, president of the AOGIN-India told Express that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been found to be the cause of cervical cancer as well as of other genital cancers. The majority of these cancers can be prevented through appropriate screening and vaccinations as endorsed by World Health Organization. With around 67,000 cervical cancer deaths in India every year, an incidence rate of 27 in one lakh persons, addressing this issue in an effective and holistic way remains a major challenge. While maternal mortality rates have come down to under 50,000 per year in the country, with poor awareness about cervical cancer especially among rural women, the government of India should initiate a national level programme to control and prevent cervical cancer to bring its mortality rate down as well. The services of the existing Accelerated Social Health activists (ASHA) should be utilised in rural areas to create awareness and also to motivate women to undergo screening tests with Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) method, she said and added that early detection of cervical cancer will raise chances of successful treatment and cure.

 More than 66 countries have launched dedicated programmes in this regard and over 60 million doses of HPV vaccines administered so far. The vaccine is safe and what is needed is it should be made affordable. While Tamil Nadu has taken the lead to include cervical cancer screening in its public health care programme, the screening and vaccination for cervical cancer should be carried out simultaneously across India on the basis of the guidelines that were framed by an expert committee some ten years back.

Dr Abraham Peedicayil, organising secretary of the meet from CMC who is also the vice president of the AOGIN-India noted that more than 50 per cent of cervical cancer cases in the developing world occur within the Asian-Pacific region and one-fourth occur in India. The vaccine should be given to girls in the age group of 9-12 in two doses and in three doses for girls over 15 years.


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