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6,000 women die of cervical cancer every year in Bangladesh
Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer of women in Bangladesh, with approximately 6,000 women die of cervical cancer every year and 12,000 new cases detected.
The primary reason for the high number of new cases and deaths by cervical cancer is due absence of national mechanisms for high-quality cervical screening programmes, health officials and cancer experts said at a programme Monday.
The Directorate General of Health Services organised the programme in Dhaka where health minister Mohammad Nasim launched the National Strategy for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Bangladesh.
Cervical cancer can be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted virus, said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University gynecological oncology professor Ashrafunnesa.
Though almost 90 per cent of HPV infections are cleared naturally by the immune system, persistent infections can increase the risk of cervical cancer by leading to the development of precancerous lesions that can progress to cervical cancer over a period of about 10 years, she said in her keynote speech.
These precancerous lesions can be diagnosed and removed using simple and effective outpatient procedures, but since they do not cause any clinical symptoms, they can only be identified by cervical screening, she said.
It is estimated that in Bangladesh, over 30 million women aged 30-60 years need to be screened for Cervical Cancer, Ashrafunnesa said.
Presiding over the function, DGHS director general Abul Kalam Azad said the national strategy for Bangladesh has been designed with the goal to reduce the incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality from cervical cancer through a coordinated and refined approach for screening, detection, and management.
Health minister Mohammad Nasim said cancer prevalence is increasing in Bangladesh as across the world, but awareness could prevent a large number of cancer patients.
‘We have to stress on prevention of cervical cancer with a social movement in regards to awareness,’ he said.
Nasim said the country’s 431 health facilities currently performing Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid screenings of cervical cancer and over 2,000 health care providers are trained for the screening.
‘People have to utilise the screening centres and the health care providers have to work sincerely,’ he said.
Health secretary GM Saleh Uddin said the marginalised and backward women are the worst victims of cervical cancer.
They even do not disclose the incident of cervical cancer to the family members because of taboo, he said, calling for mass screening of cancer.
The national strategy mandated for vaccination of cervical cancer vaccine for the adolescent girls not above 15 years of old. The vaccination before the first sexual intercourse protects the girls from its incidence throughout the life.
The strategy also suggested screening of the mid-aged women and others alongside palliative care for the elderly women who could not be cured of the cancer.
World Health Organisation country representative Bardan Jung Rana and UNFPA chief of health Sathyanarayanan Doraiswamy endorsed their commitment to eradicate cervical cancer from Bangladesh.