I write to commend the efforts being embarked upon by the office of the first lady in promoting vaccination against cervical cancer which has gained momentum in the country if recent media reports are anything to go by. I think this is a great move given the need to use our scarce resources for the prevention of diseases which will otherwise cost us more. Indeed, the old English saying that prevention is better than cure could not be appropriate.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide and the leading cause of cancer deaths in developing countries. While incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer have fallen significantly in developed countries, 83% of all new cases that occur annually and 85% of all deaths from the disease occur in developing countries. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in sub-Saharan Africa. The incidence is on the increase in some countries. Knowledge and awareness of this disease on the continent are very poor and mortality still very high. Facilities for the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer are still very inadequate in many countries in the region. Governments in sub-Saharan Africa must recognise cervical cancer as a major public health concern and allocate appropriate resources for its prevention and treatment, and for research. Indeed, cervical cancer in this region must be accorded the same priority as HIV/Aids, malaria, tuberculosis and childhood immunisations.
The involvement of the West Coast regional governor Aminata Siffai Hydara in conjunction with the first lady will lend a higher profile to the campaign while sensitising women about the issue. Through this the government will save a lot of money that will otherwise have been spent on procuring drugs and providing treatment in the case of infections.
The Gambia has made great strides in vaccination against polio which had been a significant cause of death in Africa and other parts of the developing world.
Finally, I wish to thank the First Lady and staff of the Expanded Immunisation Programme of the Ministry of Health who have been doing a great job.
Food safety-the need for greater regulation
I was very pleased to learn that a food safety agency has been created to ensure regulation and safety of food for the health of the populace .When one goes around West field and other places you come across a lot of food vendors selling a lot of things ranging from water melon ,apples, bananas, Café Touba and meat. To my observation some of these things are not being sold in compliance with the strictest conditions of hygiene. It is important that the relevant agencies take drastic action to protect the public from such public health dangers. Just yesterday I was strolling around Westfield when I saw a woman selling water melon which was uncovered.
There were cars driven around the uncovered water melon kicking up dust which pose serious health hazards to consumers of such food.