Taking a step towards safeguarding women in Pakistan

KARACHI: Civil societies, medical institutes, doctors and drug makers have joined hands to create awareness among the masses to significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by cervical cancer in Pakistan.

Many countries with collaborative efforts of institutions, industry, government departments and society have already dramatically reduced the mortality rate of deadly diseases by imparting knowledge and creating awareness; said Prof. Razia Korejo (Vice President Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pakistan) while launching the platform of United Against Cervical Cancer (UACC).

UACC platform has been launched jointly by Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pakistan (SOGP), supported by 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 collaboration and efforts of these entities will address the issue of rising mortality of women in Pakistan. The launching ceremony of UACC was held in local hotel in Karachi and organized by SOGP.

Meanwhile, Dr. Shireen Zulfiqar Bhutta (Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center Karachi) briefed about the burden of cervical cancer in Pakistan saying that Pakistan is ranked seventh in the world amongst countries having the highest number of cervical cancer deaths worldwide. Cervical Cancer takes the lives of 20 women every day & is the second most common cancer among women in Pakistan.

Asst. Prof. Rozilla Saadia as an expert in Gynecological cancers from Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aga Khan University Hosp (AKUH) spoke on expertise from clinical practice and patient picture. “It will be essential for your daughter, sister, wife & mother to have Regular Screening of Cervical Cancer. Pap smear tests and other techniques need to be made readily available in the country” she said.

Furthermore, we should follow the footprint of Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Cervical Cancer vaccine is part of their Universal Mass Vaccination programme (UMV) while several other countries including Malaysia, Mexico and Rwanda have played leadership role in fight against Cervical Cancer. Moreover, Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention representing world’s health experts and medical fraternity suggest a roadmap to ensure that all women and girls have equitable access to HPV vaccines, screening and treatment.

It is pertinent to mention that World Health Organization (WHO) projected that by 2030, almost half a million women will die of cervical cancer, with over 98% of these deaths expected to occur in low and middle-income countries such as Pakistan. Cervical cancer kills an estimated 275,000 women every year and 500,000 new cases are reported worldwide. This entirely preventable disease is the second largest cancer killer of women in low and middle-income countries, with most women dying in the prime of life, when they are supporting their husbands and bringing up children.

Prof. Dr. Sadiah Ahsan Pal (Executive Member of Association for Mothers & Newborns (AMAN), Member National Committee of Maternal & Neonatal health of Pakistan (NCMNH) shed light on the role of vaccination as a primary means of prevention from cervical cancer. She urged the community to act now and ask their physicians and gynecologists about vaccination.

Prof. Jalal Akber (Chairman & HOD Peads at Children’s Hosp, Baqai Medical University & President Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA Sindh Karachi Chapter) suggested that early protection of girls and women against Cervical Cancer should be done. Sara Fahim (student body representative from AIESEC) discussed about the need for creating awareness in college & university going females and AIESEC’s achievements of implementing awareness campaigns on Cervical Cancer in their Annual meetings.

Dr. Shireen Zulfiqar Bhutta opined that the women of Pakistan are unaware of the seriousness of this disease. It’s high time we all should unite against cervical cancer to protect our girls and women from this silent killer. The platform will support and organize campaigns for women’s awareness about cervical cancer while UACC will send women a wake-up call about the risks of the disease and to help them take mandatory measures to reduce personal risk factors and their personal protection of developing disease as awareness is the first step in the prevention of the disease.

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