Despite the daily increase in the internet usage in our country, I still find our people very ignorant of vital knowledge of crucial information regarding their health, well being & lifestyle. Guess, the focus of search engines is not really on individual betterment after all.
Where specialized doctors will already be aware of the HPV virus, its causes, symptoms and repercussions; our general public stands oblivious of this deadly malignancy, commonly known as Cervical Cancer around the world. Taking 20 lives per day on an average and prevalent as second most common cancer among women in Pakistan, this, fortunately, has its healing vaccine and the affected can be cured if diagnosed with the toxin at an early level.
Cervical Cancer is the cancer of the cervix (or the lower part of the uterus) causing abnormal growth of the cells inside it. This disease is not hereditary but can easily be transmitted via genital skin to skin contact, There are often no signs or symptoms of this type of cancer at early stages hence making it a very cunning virus that which can not be detected by our anti-bodies. Since our women are not aware of this cancer type, the precautions taken are negligible as well causing most patients to come in at an aggravated stage of the disease where 60% of them die a painful death. Hysterectomy is a common resultant of an aggravated and untreated cervical cancer.
Sadly, awareness, screening, diagnosis, treatment & management activities related to this cancer do not take place in our country, because essentially, it should be made part of our national health plan and passed as a public rule for all women aged 9+ to be vaccinated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Those who have crossed this age can still be protected if unmarried, though the number of vaccines will increase. From ages 9-14 yrs, there are 2 dosages and later till age 35, there are 3 dosages in total each costing approx PKR 4,700/-
To get this message across via editorials, social media, channels, seminars and word of mouth, civil societies, medical institutes, doctors and drug makers have now joined hands to create awareness among the masses to significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by cervical cancer in Pakistan. A launch ceremony for this awareness campaign known as #UnitedAgainstCervicalCancer was held recently in a local hotel in Karachi and organized by Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pakistan (SOGP) with vigorous support from AMAN (Association for Mothers and Newborns), AKUH Gynae Oncology Department, Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA Sindh Karachi Chapter), GlaxoSmithKline Pakistan Limited, AIESEC (student organization) and other women organizations.
The presence of renowned doctors like Dr. Shireen Bhutta, Rozilla Sadia, Sadia Ahsan Pal & Prof. Jalal Akbar made it an interesting awareness session for the audience. The doctors persisted on having all the women go through the essential screening process & pap smear tests and other techniques to have an early investigation of the matter.
The appeal is to all the women out there to stay alert and get themselves vaccinated in time for this deadly virus and moreover to the government authorities to announce A Universal Mass Vaccination programme (UMV) for everyone to join the fight against Cervical Cancer on a cost free basis for complete eradication of this silent killer.