By: Stephen Odoi-Larbi
Ghana will from the 25 to 27 July, 2010, host the 4th 'Stop Cervical Conference in Africa'. The event is under the theme -'Africa Unite in Action, Mobilizing Political and Financial Support to Strengthen Cervical Cancer Prevention.'
The conference, which is a collaborative effort between the Government of Ghana (GoG) and Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) at the forefront of breast and cervical cancer prevention and control in Africa, aims among other things to advocate for increased awareness on cervical cancer in Africa and to advocate for effective implementation through working with other partners in order to reduce stigmatization of people suffering and living with cervical cancer.
It also aims to mobilize the needed resources for the development of policies, strategies and action to fight cervical cancer at national, regional and international levels, and to update and educate the stakeholders on recent developments in cervical cancer prevention in Africa and around the world.
Furthermore, the conference will seek to formulate an appropriate document which will be used for future advocacy to Governments, NGOs, Corporations and individuals for immediate investment and funding of cervical cancer prevention in Africa.
Papers to be laid at the conference include 'The burden of cervical cancer in Africa', 'Societal barriers to cervical cancer prevention in Africa', 'HPV immunology and cervical cancer, HIV and cervical cancer in Africa' and 'Financing HPV vaccine in Africa'.
Briefing media personnel on the upcoming event in Accra recently, Minister for Health, Dr. Benjamin Kumbour said his outfit's decision to embrace the conference was as a result of the high percentage of death associated with cervical cancer among women in the country.
According to him, the conference will afford the country, 'to accelerate efforts at advocacy and awareness creation and enhance Ghana's efforts of implementing a comprehensive cervical cancer prevention program in the provision of a continuum of care.'
He said Ghana intends to intensify or undertake follow-up interventions in areas such as primary prevention, early detection and treatment, rehabilitation and support and palliative care at the end of the conference. 'It will afford us the opportunity to showcase programs already in place, and also to prevent, manage and control cervical cancer more effectively,' he added.
Global deaths due to cancers amount to 274,000 annually with 80% being in low and middle income countries. Every year, about 79,000 of the global deaths are diagnosed in Africa with 80% death rate.
WHO estimates that 18% of all cancer deaths are due to cervical cancer which is the leading cause of cancers in women in Ghana, affecting the age group thirty-five years and above.
Dr. Kumbour attributed the problem to the 'epidemiological transition, recent changes in diet, the social environment and adaptation of lifestyles resembling those of the developed countries'.
Founder and Director General of Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation, Princess Nikky Onyeri on her part advised women to go for an early test and treatment, if any, to avoid paying huge sums of money at the advanced stage.
Over 500 international, African and local delegates are expected to attend the conference.