Millions of Nigerian women are at risk of cervical cancer because they cannot access the life-saving human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine due to its high cost and the failure of the Nigerian government to integrate it into the national immunisation programme.
Currently, HPV vaccines are largely available in private health facilities as well as public hospitals at exorbitant prices. More so, there is limited awareness of its importance.
Cervical cancer ranks as the second most frequent cancer among women in Nigeria, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Also a research by The Lancet reveals that more than 44 million women globally, stand to develop cervical cancer between 2020 and 2069 especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) such as Nigeria.
Amina Isah, a regenerative medicine specialist and head of reproductive and sexual health with Nisa Premier Hospitals said cervical cancer has remained one of the major causes of fatality among women despite being 100 percent preventable.
She regretted that the burden is more prevalent among the rural populace because they cannot afford the cost of the vaccine or treatment services, and called on the government to make the services free for the populace. The health expert made this known on Wednesday at an event organised by Nisa Premier Hospitals to mark the 2023 International Women’s Day. The hospital also provided free gynaecological consultation for women.
Isah also hinted on the need to ensure adequate awareness to ensure early detection. “Cervical cancer is one of the killers of women, it is not readily diagnosed, we see them when it is already full blown cancer and there is nothing one can do about, you can only do conservative management. But, it is 100 percent preventable and 100 percent treatable if detected early,” she added.
“Government has a big role to play by making all these services free for the people, especially for people in the rural communities, 80 percent of the problem is in the rural communities,” she further said.
At the event, Isah also lectured women on regenerative medicine and its application in gynaecology, in line with the IWD2023 theme: “DigitalAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”. She called on all women to take their health seriously and go for regular screening.
Also speaking Musa Shuaib, group managing director, Nisa Premier noted that women are still disadvantaged in many sectors . According to him, one of the factors limiting women from competing with their male counterparts is the extra burden they carry in terms of the traditional roles they play in their homes.
While encouraging women to embrace technology to enable them compete favourably, Shuaib also advocated that the traditional roles played should be modified and urged workspaces to make adjustments to allow women to play the extra role.