Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide with approximately 500,000 new cases and about 250,000 deaths each year (about 85% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries). This translates to around one woman dying of cervical cancer every two minutes around the world.
In response to this huge disease burden among women, IPPF Member Associations in the Africa Region are providing Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment as part of the SRH package of services offered to their clients, with a focus on the poor and marginalized.
With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IPPF has a focused initiative on Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventive Therapy through Reproductive Health Networks being implemented in four Member Associations in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. This programme focuses on the integration of cervical cancer screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions through Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) and Cryotherapy. This is an approach that has shown great effectiveness in low resource settings whereby middle level health workers using inexpensive and affordable technology are able save the lives of hundreds and thousands of women by identifying pre-cancerous lesions early and providing early treatment.
The initiative supports the training of service providers, procurement of equipment and supplies, community mobilization/outreach and IEC, strengthening data systems and conduct of operations research around cervical cancer screening and preventive therapy programme implementation.
For just over one year of implementation in the four countries, there are now over 190 static and outreach screening sites and 25 Cryotherapy sites. During this period, the four Member Associations have been able to reach over 80,000 women with cervical cancer screening services and provided Cryotherapy to those found eligible. IPPF envisages scaling up the cervical programme implemented in these four countries and other across the region to further expand cervical cancer screening and treatment so as to reach more women with these lifesaving services through an integrated approach.