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US-led partnership to combat cervical cancer in Africa

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Summary of story from Ghana News Agency, September 14, 2011

When almost 90 per cent of all women in Sub-Saharan Africa have never had a pelvic examination, it is not surprising that the most common female illness in the region is cervical cancer, with 530,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths each year.

Globally, more than 85 per cent of all cervical cancers occur in the developing countries, yet the World Health Organisation estimates that fewer than five per cent of those women have access to screening even once in a lifetime.

Cervical cancer is four to five times more common among women who are HIV-positive. Currently, almost seven million HIV-positive people are alive because of access to antiretroviral therapy and new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20 per cent in the last 10 years.

Recognising the urgent need to address women’s cancers in the developing world, the American Embassy in the Ghanian capital of Accra have presented an overview of a new partnership called Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.

This partnership has been designed to educate, test, diagnose and treat cervical and breast cancer in African and Latin American countries.

Led by the George W. Bush Institute, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will expand the availability of vital cervical cancer screening and treatment—especially for high-risk HIV-positive women – and also promote breast cancer education.

With an initial funding of $75 million, the plan is to reduce the deaths of cervical cancer by 25 per cent among screened women.

The programme, which includes drugs companies like Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb, for example, will also aim to increase awareness of cervical and breast cancer, reduce stigma, mobilise communities and expand access to HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS UNAIDS will provide high-level advocacy and communication strategies linking HIV response to cervical and breast cancer and provide technical expertise, especially related to the integration of HIV screening and treatment with that of cervical and breast cancers.

 

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