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Oyo curbs cervical cancer with renewed screening, treatment

Oyo State Government has reinvigorated cervical cancer screening for women, aimed to prevent, identify new infections, ensure follow up treatment and avert unnecessary deaths. This comes as a Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health, Clement Adebamowo has decried cultural practices driving cervical cancer and urged women to stop introducing things into their private parts, adding that these practices could increase the risk of developing the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer.

Oyo State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Taiwo Oladipo who revealed the Oyo State plan to renew the screening during a webinar recently, said cervical cancer screening and care are preventive measures that will go a long way in ensuring that issues pertaining to cervical cancer in the state are nipped in the bud. Oladipo spoke recently at the commencement of the Nigeria, University of New Mexico (UNM), University of Maryland (UMB) Cancer Control ECHO (NUUCCE) project Oyo State Cancer Prevention Project ECHO involves the collaboration of the University of New Mexico (UNM) Comprehensive Cancer Centre, the University of Maryland (UMB) School of Medicine Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and the Centre for Bioethics and Research (CBR), Nigeria with the Oyo State Ministry of Health.

The project is building capacity in the Oyo State healthcare system to screen and prevent cervical cancer. According to him, in 2019, the state government had put together plans to screen 2,000 people for cervical cancer but was only able to do 500 cases before the commencement of COVID-19. The Oyo State Government has given some cognisance to cancer control. “In 2018, Oyo State put together a 5-year cancer control plan to look at issues pertaining to cancer identification, screening, hospice and other forms of management for people affected by cancer,” Oladipo said. While urging Nigerian women to desist from practices that could fuel cervical cancer such as introducing substances ranging from plants, spices, foods, and synthetic chemicals into their vagina, Prof. Adebamowo said it takes time between when the HPV infection occurs and when cervical cancer develops.

“This gives us the time to prevent its subsequent advancement. However, early treatment enables us to prevent the cost associated with trying to treat cervical cancer.” According to him, the challenge is the development, implementation and sustenance of cervical cancer prevention programmes. Consequently, he reasoned that the ECHO project is very important and requires commitment by the team in the entire health system. Adebamowo said the objective of the programme is to lay the foundation for the elimination of cervical cancer in Oyo State. According to him, with active participation and commitment cervical cancer in the state will be a thing of the past. Speaking further, he said the programme was developed as a hybrid because of lessons from COVID-19.

“We are the better for it. Now everyone can participate in hybrid training. Also, we will have hands-on training about how to reduce cervical cancer. “ To this end, he said, “Let’s make Oyo State proud so that no woman in Oyo State will live with fear of developing cervical cancer.

Furthermore, a Gynaecologist at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Dr. Imran Morhason-Bello, in an overview of cervical cancer and HPV infection, stated that cervical cancer is caused by the persistence of high-risk HPV infections.

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