>NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 16 – An initiative aimed at reducing cancer amongst women in Kenya has set out to offer one million free Pap smear tests in Kenya’s 47 counties next month, as the world marks cancer month.
The initiative established by Women for Cancer Early Detection and Treatment, a Non-Governmental Organization aims to create awareness on the importance of vaccinating and also improve the practice of testing during early detection for cancer.
The organisation’s chairperson, Brenda Kithaka says this move will help move up the current testing number from 3 percent of the population to the highest possible number.
“If we put the proper infrastructure in place no doubt, four to five years from now women will have greater awareness. They will be better aware of the benefits of early detection. We must educate our communities on the importance of vaccinating our teenage girls and regular screening for our women,” she said.
“As we do that, the government must create an environment that allows women to get the tests and school going girls to get the vaccinations at affordable rates. This you will all agree is a gigantic task that calls for all stakeholders to work together.”
New statistics released by the National Guidelines for Cancer Management in Kenya indicate that over 1,000 women die annually from cancer due to late detection and lack of information about cervical cancer and prevention services.
The report further indicates that cervical cancer is potentially preventable and effective screening programs can lead to a significant reduction in the morbidity and mortality associated with this cancer.
Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations chairman David Makumi is urging the government to establish cancer control programs in all counties to push the awareness agenda further.
“This must start somewhere either with the National Government or with the devolved units of healthcare because we want to take this cancer war right to the counties. Unless we have this approach even as we are talking about ‘Pesa Mashinani’ we also need to talk about cancer control mashinani,” he said.
“In developed countries, regular screening with a Pap smear has been shown to effectively lower the risk for developing invasive cervical cancer, by detecting precancerous changes.”
The Women for Cancer Globe-athon to be held on 27 September is a call to action to unify efforts towards fostering greater awareness and educate on the importance of early detection.
The Globe-athon is a worldwide movement to build unprecedented public awareness about the global impact of gynaecological cancers.