SADC cervical cancer rates highest in Africa

Lusaka – Southern Africa is the continent’s worst affected region when it comes to cervical cancer mortality, a recent study shows.
According to the World Health Organisation, Zambia has the highest mortality rate in Africa at 38.6 deaths per 100 000 women.
It is followed by Malawi (38.3), Tanzania (37.5), Uganda (34.9), Mozambique (34.5), Zimbabwe (33.4), Mali (28.4), Ghana (27.6), and Rwanda (25.4). India, however, has the highest rates globally with women from that country accounting for 26.4 percent of all cervical cancer deaths in the world.
Other countries with high incidence of cervical cancer are China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Thailand.
WHO projects that by 2030, almost 500 000 women will die from cervical cancer yearly across the globe, and 98 percent of these deaths will be in low and middle-income countries.
Presently, cervical cancer kills an estimated 275 000 women every year, with half-a-million new cases recorded annually.
Cervical cancer is the second-largest cancer killer of women in low and middle-income countries, with most women dying in the prime of life, WHO says.
Zambia’s First Lady, Dr Christine Kaseba ‑ a medical doctor – has said of the statistics: “It is shocking that Zambia is ranked number one on the Cervical Cancer Crisis Card for mortality rate.
She said while 100 000 women in Zambia have been screened and diagnosed with the cervical cancer in recent months, more needed to be done by way of treatment.
Dr Kaseba called for global action to combat cervical cancer.
“We can change this by making life-saving vaccines available that almost entirely prevent the disease. We have the tools and technologies.”
It is against this background that Zambia recently introduced the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to assist fight cervical cancer.
However, HPV vaccines are not yet widely available and screening rates remain low.
The situation has been fuelled by the lack of awareness and deep-seated stigma associated with cervical cancer among various communities Zambia.

July 2013
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