Tuesday January 21, 2020

WHO Calls for Accelerated Action To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

Women in remote, rural areas often have difficulty reaching clinics where they can be tested and treated for the disease.

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Cervical Cancer
A woman suffering from cervical cancer takes her medicine at a treatment facility in Beijing, China, June 23, 2016. VOA

Ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4), the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for accelerated action to eliminate cervical cancer, a preventable disease that kills more than 300,000 women every year.

Cervical cancer ranks among leading causes of death for women worldwide. Nine in 10 deaths occur in poor and middle-income countries. The disease is caused by the human papillomavirus and is transmitted through sexual contact.

The WHO says cervical cancer can be cured if the infection is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. But, as with some ailments in life, prevention is the best cure. And, in the case of cervical cancer, an effective vaccine is available that can prevent the disease when given to girls between the ages of nine and 14.

Cancers, U.S.
Diakite, 46, looks out the window after her annual check up with Dr. Abdoul Aziz Kasse at the Clinique des Mamelles in Dakar, Senegal on July 13, 2017. Diakite has successfully recovered from cervical cancer thanks to Dr. Kasse and yearly checks. VOA

The WHO’s Immunization Program technical officer, Paul Bloem, says the vaccine is widely administered in rich countries. While countries with the highest burden of cervical cancer in Africa and Asia are lagging behind, he says progress is being made.

“In countries, such as Rwanda, a trailblazer in Africa, that reaches over 90 percent since five, six years. Bhutan, that reaches also 90 percent of its girls. Malaysia, that reaches 97 percent of its girls. So, there are some extremely good examples that show that this vaccine is accepted and can be delivered in low-income settings,” he said.

Bloem says four countries in Africa – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Senegal – introduced the vaccine last year. He says 11 more countries in Africa and Asia will start using it next year.

Harnessing sperm may help fight cervical cancer
Scientists report that they have exploited the swimming power of sperms to ferry a cancer drug directly to a cervical tumour in lab tests. wikimedia commons

Princess Nothemba Simelela, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women, Children and Adolescents, says a big problem in developing countries is the lack of skilled people to test and diagnose cervical cancer in women.

She says that women in remote, rural areas often have difficulty reaching clinics where they can be tested and treated for the disease. But she told VOA there are strategies governments can employ to overcome that.

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“We can have mobile outreach clinics. Sometimes, what you have is days on which women can be called or young girls can be brought in, specifically to get this attention,” she said.

Simelela says another strategy that governments can employ is to use school health programs. For instance, she says, Rwanda and South Africa bring the vaccine into the schools where access is available to the largest number of girls in the age groups that need to be reached. (VOA)

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Premature Menopause More Likely to Increase Health Problems After 60

Compared with women who experienced menopause at the age of 50-51 years, women with premature menopause were twice as likely to develop multimorbidity by the age of 60, and three times as likely to develop multimorbidity from the age of 60 onwards

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Bone Health
Women who have already been through menopause may experience problems related to their bone health. Lifetime Stock

Women who experience premature menopause are almost three times more likely to develop multiple, chronic medical problems in their 60s, says a new study.

It is known already that premature menopause, occurring at the age of 40 or younger, is linked to a number of individual medical problems in later life, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

However, there is little information about whether there is also an association between the time of natural menopause and the development of multiple medical conditions known as multimorbidity.

For the findings, published in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers at the University of Queensland followed more than 5,000 women aged 45 to 50 from 1996 until 2016.

“We found that 71 per cent of women with premature menopause had developed multimorbidity by the age of 60 compared with 55 per cent of women who experienced menopause at the age of 50-51,” said study researcher Xiaolin Xu from Zhejiang University in China.

“In addition, 45 per cent of women with premature menopause had developed multimorbidity in their 60s compared with 40 per cent of women who experienced menopause at the age of 50-51,” Xu added.

The women responded to the first survey in 1996 and then answered questionnaires every three years (apart from a two-year interval between the first and second survey) until 2016.

Sexual Dysfunction increases by nearly 30 per cent during perimenopause and vaginal dryness most often has the greatest effect on desire, arousal and overall satisfaction, Here are some Causes. Wikimedia Commons

The women reported whether they had been diagnosed with or treated for any of 11 health problems in the past three years: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, anxiety or breast cancer.

Women were considered to have multimorbidity if they had two or more of these conditions.

During the 20 years of follow-up, 2.3 per cent of women experienced premature menopause and 55 per cent developed multimorbidity.

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Compared with women who experienced menopause at the age of 50-51 years, women with premature menopause were twice as likely to develop multimorbidity by the age of 60, and three times as likely to develop multimorbidity from the age of 60 onwards.

“Our findings indicate that multimorbidity is common in mid-aged and early-elderly women,” said Indian-origin researcher and study senior author Gita Mishra.

“We also found that premature menopause is associated with a higher incidence of individual chronic conditions,” Xu added. (IANS)