“For too many women, life is being cut short by cervical cancer.”
We’re hoping that by the end of this story, you’ve called your doctor and made an appointment. It’s that important.
Cervical cancer rates in the Middle East are predicted to double by 2035, The National reports, and a lack of awareness and screening is to blame. In 2015, 19,500 people suffered from cervical cancer in the Middle East and North Africa, leading to 9,930 deaths.
By 2035, those numbers were expected to hit 33,700 cases and 18,850 deaths.
According to the World Health Organisation, most women with cervical cancer will have no symptoms. Testing and effective follow-up treatment are thus essential.
Dr Sania Nishtar, co-chair of the WHO’s Independent High-Level Commission on Non-communicable Diseases, told The National that programmes shown to reduce cancer rates needed to be more widely applied.
“It’s important that wherever there’s progress in tackling NCDs, we learn from it and scale it up across the world… For too many women, life is being cut short by cervical cancer.”
Women aged 30-49 are the WHO’s target group for cervical cancer screening, which can include smear testing and pelvic ultrasounds.
Here in the UAE, the introduction of a human papilloma virus vaccine has reduced numbers dramatically, but nearby countries like Morocco and Saudi Arabia were still dealing with high rates.
HPV causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. The disease kills more than 250,000 women worldwide each year.
Mychelle Farmer of advocacy group NCD Child told The National that women’s health needed to be a priority for all nations.
“By investing in women’s health, especially in preventative care, nations are investing in their future prosperity,” she said.
“If women have access to good quality health services, then they and their children are much more likely to stay healthy and contribute positively to their nation.”
So go on. Call your doctor, and have the other women in your life do the same.