Monday September 23, 2019

WHO Urges South-East Asian Countries to Accelerate Efforts to Eliminate Cervical Cancer by 2030

Cervical cancer is a significant public health problem in the region

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Cancer, cells, metabolism, research, treatment, science
the workings of a metabolic pathway or "gauge" that lets cancer cells detect when they have enough nutrients around them to grow.. Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged South-East Asian countries to accelerate efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030.

“Countries need to expand vaccination, screening, detection and treatment services for everyone, everywhere to address the growing problem of cervical cancer,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee here in Delhi.

Cervical cancer is a significant public health problem in the region.

In 2018, an estimated 158,000 new cases and 95,766 deaths were reported due to cervical cancer, which is the third most common type of cancer.

WHO, Efforts, Cervical Cancer
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged South-East Asian countries to accelerate efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030. Pixabay

Addressing cancer risk factors and reducing its prevalence has been a regional flagship priority since 2014, and all countries in the region are taking measures for screening and treatment of pre-cancers, WHO said in a statement.

According to the WHO, four countries in the Region – Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand – have introduced HPV vaccines nationally.

“We need to scale up both our capacities and quality for screening, treatment services and palliative care,” Singh said.

Vaccination against human papillomavirus, screening and treatment of pre-cancer, early detection and prompt treatment of early invasive cancers and palliative care are proven effective strategies to address cervical cancer.

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Member countries are working towards interim global targets – of achieving 90 per cent girls fully vaccinated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine by 15 years of age; having 70 per cent women screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age: and of 90 per cent women identified with the cervical disease receiving treatment and care by 2030.

The WHO South-East Asia Regional Director said there is a need to strengthen national cervical cancer control plans, including appropriate strategies and guidelines for immunisation, screening, treatment and care, including palliative care.

WHO is prioritising cervical cancer elimination as worldwide cervical cancer remains one of the gravest threats to women’s lives. (IANS)

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Tanzania Refuses to Provide Detailed Information on Ebola Cases

Tanzania is refusing to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, a rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak declared a global health emergency

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tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
A child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

Tanzania is refusing to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, a rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak declared a global health emergency.

Transparency and speed are key to combating the deadly hemorrhagic fever because the disease can spread rapidly. Contacts of any potentially infected person must be quarantined and the public warned to step up precautions like hand washing.

WHO said in a statement released late Saturday that it was made aware Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and unofficially told the next day that the person tested positive for Ebola. The woman had died Sept. 8.

“Identified contacts of the deceased were unofficially reported to be quarantined in various sites in the country,” the statement said.

Unofficial information

WHO said it was unofficially told that Tanzania had two other possible Ebola cases. One had tested negative and there was no information on the other one.

tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, Tanzania map. VOA

Officially, the Tanzanian government said last weekend it had no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola. The government did not address the death of the woman directly and did not provide any further information.

Despite several requests, “clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed … have not been communicated to WHO,” the U.N. health agency said. “The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge.”

Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spill-overs of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo where a year-long outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people.

Last week the U.S. health secretary, Alex Azar criticized Tanzania for its failure to share information on the possible outbreak. The next day he dispatched a senior U.S. health official to Tanzania.

Quick response works

Uganda, which neighbors Congo, has recorded several cases after sick patients crossed the border. A quick government response there prevented the disease from spreading.

tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
WHO said it was unofficially told that Tanzania had two other possible Ebola cases. One had tested negative and there was no information on the other one. Pixabay

The 34-year-old woman who died in Dar es Salaam had traveled to Uganda, according to a leaked internal WHO document circulated earlier this month. She showed signs of Ebola including headache, fever, rash, bloody diarrhea Aug. 10 and died Sept. 8.

Tanzania is heavily reliant on tourism and an outbreak of Ebola would likely lead to a dip in visitor numbers.

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The WHO statement is not the first time international organizations have queried information from the government of President John Magufuli, nicknamed The Bulldozer for his pugnacious ruling style.

Earlier this year both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund contradicted the government’s economic growth figure for 2018. (VOA)