SOS Children’s Village The Gambia in collaboration with the Regional Health Directorate, Western 2, recently held a day’s sensitisation forum on cervical cancer for health workers and community radio broadcasters within the West Coast Region (WCR).
The forum, held at the Regional Health Directorate conference hall in Brikama, was funded by Johnson and Johnson through Janssen Pharmaceuticals and the Trust Corporate Citizenship. It was implemented by SOS Children’s Villages with the support of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Office of the First Lady.
Speaking at the sensitisation, the regional director of Health Services, Ngally Abubacar Sambou underscored the importance of the forum, pointing out that every year cervical cancer causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to him, more than 80 percent of cervical cancer cases in The Gambia are detected in the late stages which are associated with very low survival rates. He thus urged community radio broadcasters to disseminate the information on the availability of the screening centres and services in the region.
SOS Mother & Child Clinic medical director, Dr. Adelard Ngabonziza said the goals and the objectives of the project is to contribute to the sustainability of cervical cancer prevention in the country, by creating awareness to reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality.
Cervical cancer he went on, is the abnormal growth of cells in the cervix due mainly to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. According to him, majority of HPV infections resolve spontaneously and do not cause symptom of disease, saying persistent infection may lead to precancerous lesions if untreated.
Dr. Ngabonziza noted that there is no symptoms of early stage cervical cancer, stressing that cervical cancer can lead to excessive bleeding and genital infection among others.
He maintained that in The Gambia, cervical cancer is the number 1 type of cancer that affects woman, positing that it is one of the priorities of the government of The Gambia.
“There is a synergic partnership in the fight against cervical cancer between SOS and Johnson and Johnson, Ministry of Health and the Office of First Lady,” he stated.
Johnson & Johnson’s senior quality manager, Josi Wey, explained that early screening of cervical cancer can save lives.
“Pre-cancer cells can be detected through VIA screening (Visual inspection with acetic acid) and treated in the same visit all free of charge at seven health facilities in The Gambia. This is a benefit that not all countries in the world are currently offering,” she stated.
She called on women to get screened and for men to support their wives and daughters in this fight.
by Meita Touray