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Cervical Cancer: WHO advises African countries to step up HPV vaccination

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The World Health Organisation has urged all countries in the region to actively engage in awareness campaigns and promote screening as well as HPV vaccination to protect women and girls against cervical cancer.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said this on Wednesda in her statement to mark this year’s cervical cancer awareness month.

She said 100,000 women developed cervical cancer and approximately 70,000 of them died in 2020, in the WHO African Region.

She said this represents 21% of the cervical cancer mortality globally, adding that the disease disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable communities.

Moeti said January is cervical cancer awareness month and the WHO African Region joins other regions in marking the month to promote the three key messages of this year’s campaign which are ‘to be informed; get screened; and get vaccinated.’

Moeti also said the high rate of cervical cancer in the region showed that there were major gaps in knowledge, awareness of the disease, and access to screening.

The WHO regional director said there was urgent need to ensure that the HPV vaccine reached all young women between the ages of 9 to 14 years.

She said this required focusing on immediate needs in order to address the gaps.

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