Ghana on track to eliminate cervical cancer – MSD Director

Ghana on track to eliminate cervical cancer – MSD Director

Mr Zweli Bashman(inset) addressing Stakeholders at the programme

 The Managing Director of Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, Mr Zweli Bashman has expressed confi­dence in Ghana’s efforts towards the elimination of the deadly cervical cancer.

According to Mr Bashman, the collaborative efforts by stakeholders including government, private sector and health practitioners in Ghana was a step in the right direction towards eliminating the disease and its associ­ated deaths.

“I am impressed with the collab­orative nature of all the stakehold­ers including private sector players, healthcare practitioners and govern­ment. With the kind of collaborative leadership, I am convinced that Gha­na is on its way to eliminate cervical cancer,” he stressed.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Africa Health Business Women’s Symposium held in Accra under the theme “Establishing Sustainability in Cervical Cancer Prevention, Screening and Care in Ghana.”

The event organised by MSD, a global health care company formed part of efforts and journey towards cervical cancer elimination on the continent.

“Cervical cancer is the most deadly cancer on the continent and the sad thing is that it is preventable. Hence there has been a lot of focus by the World Health Organisation (WHO) through private partnerships, govern­ment, policy makers and other stakeholders to ensure its prevention,” he said.

Consequently, he announced that there would soon be the introduction of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vacci­nation Programme in Ghana next year which would help in the prevention.

“Ghana currently has HPV in­cidence of 3000 per annum which means that 3000 women are diag­nosed of cervical cancer every year. Of the number, 60 percent would pass away which is a staggering figure considering that this is a preventable disease. The vaccination programme would, however, help reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and the mortality rate significantly,” he explained.

“The rollout would be next year and would provide enough time to government to ensure an effective rollout particularly in the space of so­cial mobilisation, healthcare aware­ness and education for communities and practitioners,” he stressed.

He also called on male partner in­volvement to support the prevention of cervical cancer in Ghana as it also affects men in various ways.

“There is the assumption that HPV causes cancer in women alone but that is not entirely true. It also caus­es cancer in men including hidden neck cancers and anal cancers, hence it is important for men to participate in that learning process with their partners and get vaccinated as well,” he added.

To achieve the elimination agen­da, it must involve vaccinating adolescents between nine and 14, all gender neutral vaccination as well as adults.

“There is a high degree of preva­lence and mortality rate and every­one must be involved in the educa­tion and preventive measures,” he stated.

“We all need to come on board. The government must put in place structures that would enable people to get screened, advocacy groups and manufacturers to continue investing in research and development while healthcare con­sumers exhibit early health-seeking behaviour to ensure that we are not dealing with late stage cancers,” he explained.

Across the continent, he said, they were looking forward to having 80 to 90 per cent of the population having a viable and effective vaccina­tion rollout.

The programme brought togeth­er stakeholders within the health sector in the country and beyond to discuss collaborative efforts towards the elimination of cervical cancer in Africa.

 Stories By Michael D. Abayateye

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