We can End Cervical Cancer

January the first month of the year. World Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is an annual observance held in January to raise awareness about cervical cancer and the importance of preventing it. Cervical cancer is a serious issue that affects many women around the World, and it is vital to take steps to prevent it. This Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to get informed about the disease and human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes it. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is one of the most common types of cancer among women, particularly in developing countries, including Rwanda.

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Rwanda, with an estimated incidence rate of 32.7 per 100,000 women. According to the latest WHO (World Health Organization) figures released in 2020, cervical cancer deaths in Rwanda reached 942 or 1,625 of all deaths. The majority of cervical cancers in Rwanda are caused by HPV infection. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a widespread virus that can lead to genital warts and several types of cancer, among other health issues. The main risk factor for cervical cancer is HPV. There are more than 100 different HPV kinds, and just a handful of them have been linked to cervical cancer. These types are called "high-risk" HPV.

In Rwanda, the prevalence of HPV is high. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of HPV infection among women in Rwanda is estimated to be around 25%. This is higher than the global average of around 15%. Most people with HPV do not know that they have it because there are often no symptoms. It is important to note that not all women who are infected with HPV will develop cervical cancer. However, certain risk factors, such as having multiple sexual partners, smoking, and having a weakened immune system, can increase the likelihood of developing cervical cancer.

HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, and it is prevalent. In fact, most people who are sexually active will get HPV at some point in their lives. The good news is that HPV can beprevented through vaccination and regular screening. Symptoms of cervical cancer can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse, pelvic pain, and abnormal vaginal discharge. Other conditions can also cause these symptoms, so it is important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.

To address this public health issue, The World Health Assembly approved the Global Strategy for Eliminating Cervical Cancer in August 2020. The Strategy lays out a thorough strategy that encompasses the prevention, efficient pre-cancerous lesion screening and treatment, early cancer diagnosis, and programs for managing invasive cervical cancer, including palliative care. Also, the Rwandan government has implemented several initiatives, including the introduction of HPV vaccination for girls in schools and the implementation of a national cervical cancer program.

These initiatives aim to reduce the burden of HPV-related diseases in the country. Rwanda has made significant progress in increasing the HPV vaccination rate in recent years. According to the WHO, Rwanda introduced the HPV vaccination into its national immunization program in 2015, and as of 2020, the coverage of HPV vaccination among 13-17 years was estimated to be 84%.

HPV vaccination has the potential to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in Rwanda greatly and other countries. The vaccine effectively prevents HPV infection, the primary cause of cervical cancer. Individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer and other related diseases by receiving the vaccine. In addition to the HPV vaccine, other preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of cervical cancer include regular cervical cancer screening, avoiding tobacco use, and practicing safe sex. Individuals need to talk to their healthcare providers about their options for preventing cervical cancer and to get screened regularly to detect the disease in its early stages.

Overall, Cervical Cancer is a major public health issue not only in Rwanda but also in the Whole world. Efforts are needed to increase access to cervical cancer fact information, vaccination, and screening rate, as well as to address other risk factors to reduce the burden of this disease in the country and the whole World.

During World Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Rwanda Cancer Relief (RCR) join the whole World to focus on educating people about the risks of cervical cancer and the importance of getting regular screenings to detect and prevent the disease. RCR's mission is to ensure that people affected with cancer have access to a high standard of treatment and support, regardless of their socio-economic background. RCR's main work involves raising awareness of all types of cancers affecting children and adults. We raise awareness of all types of cancers and strengthen healthcare providers' capacities working on cancer. We also advocate for people with cancer and their families by providing financial and psychological support.

Get informed-Get, screened-Get vaccinated. We can End Cervical Cancer.

Author: Richard mbazumutima

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