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Thursday, February 25, 2021

First lady assures of gov’t’s commitment to cervical cancer combat

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Lady Jammeh was speaking in Brikama last Friday when she presided over the launch of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV), a pilot programme targeting girls between the ages of 9 to 13 years, especially school going children. The vaccine campaign is aimed at preventing women from cervical cancer, a sexually transmitted disease which is the second most common cancer in women.

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She told the meeting: “I am with the strong conviction that under the leadership of President Jammeh and my position as first lady, the vaccination campaign will be a success. As first lady and championing women’s empowerment, I will continue to advocate for the necessary support in terms of resources and policies to complement government’s efforts in this area.

“The introduction of the HPV project in The Gambia is by no means a coincidence and as evidence has shown, it has a high morbidity and mortality rates which can be greatly reduced when girls are immunised in their adolescence. Girls are the future and we need to prevent them from preventable diseases and deaths. Government cannot afford to fail the very people they are supposed to protect. We know from our health experts that the HPV vaccine is well tested and a very safe vaccine which has been used for the past decade in Europe, America and Asia to prevent cervical cancer among women. The vaccine has also been used in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Botswana and South Africa.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, the governor of West Coast Region, Aminata Sifai Hydara, who described the launching as “a great moment” for her region, said: “I therefore assure you that my team and I will talk to our people in the language they comprehend to convince them so that the goals of the vaccination campaign can be achieved.”

Meanwhile, statistics show that worldwide, cervical cancer is both the second most common cause of cancer and the third most common cause of death from cancer in women. Every year an estimated 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer cases are recorded worldwide, and more than 270,000 deaths in women.

This is about 8 per cent of the total cases and total deaths from cancer. Approximately 85 per cent of cervical cancers occur in developing countries. In low income countries, it is the most common cause of cancer death. A woman in Africa dies from cervical cancer every 10 minutes. According to current research conducted in the country, 98 women are diagnosed with the disease and 57 die every year from cervical cancer.

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