Sadly every two minutes a woman dies of cervical cancer, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). This form of cancer is a preventable and treatable disease.
In Zimbabwe, more than a third of cancers in women is attributable to cervical cancer and almost all cervical cancer cases are linked to infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV), an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact. Vaccinating all our young girls (9-15years old) against the HPV would eliminate this disease in Zimbabwe. Over 35 % of women contract HPV within 2 years of onset of sexual activity. For us older girls, screening and early detection would ensure we receive proper treatment earlier.
The good news is that Zimbabwe has introduced the HPV vaccine for the young ladies. For the older ladies when diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, if it is detected early and managed effectively. Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.
I applaud the Zimbabwe strategy to eliminate cervical cancer by ensuring that 90% of our girls are fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by age 15 years and 70% of women are screened with a high-performance test. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness and let us all get the vaccine or get tested!