1,600 Malawi women die of cervical cancer annually: Vaccines planned for girls

Over 2,300 women in the country develop cervical cancer and over 1,600 get killed  from the disease, Ministry of Health has disclosed.

The ministry said cervical cancer is the commonest cancer in women accounting for 45 percent of all cancers.

Ministry of Health Public Relations Officer, Henry Chimbali in a media statement made available to Nyasa Times, estimates that, if nothing is done, the number of cervical cancer cases and deaths will increase by over 60 percent to 3,800 cases, and approximately 2,600 deaths per year by 2025.

Chimbali said the ministry would start giving out Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer to adolescent girls aged between 9 to 13 in the districts of Zomba and Rumphi.

Many women prone to cervical cancer
Many women prone to cervical cancer

The initiative, on pilot phase, will start on Monday September 23, 2013 and will target approximately 4,450 girls in Rumphi and almost 2,500 in Zomba urban district before it is rolled out nationalwide.

The introduction of HPV vaccination among adolescent girls follows World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation.

Currently there are two vaccines that can prevent against diseases caused by the HPV.

“Vaccination against HPV to adolescent girls is effective in preventing cervical cancer Malawi has experience with introducing new vaccines including Pentavalent, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and rotavirus vaccines,” Chimbali said.

He said if the pilot phase is successful, Malawi would be able to scale up the vaccine nationally in 2015.

“The vaccine is to be given in 3 doses at 0 months (Sept), 2nd month (November) then 6th month (March). The vaccine is given on the upper arm of the girl”.

The project is financed by Global Alliance on Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), which assists developing countries introduce new and underutilized vaccines, and other partners.

Cervical cancer is the commonest cancer in women accounting for 45 percent of all cancers in the country.

Cervical cancer is a serious disease and can cause death. However, if recognized and treated early, cervical cancer can be easily controlled.

Cervical cancer is caused by different sub-types of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted virus.

Most HPV infections go away on their own within 1–2 years and do not cause cancer. However, about 5–10 percent of women infected with high-risk HPV types develop persistent HPV infections.

Cancer is a disease in which a group of cells in an organ display uncontrolled growth, and can sometimes spread to other locations in the body.


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