Nearly 74,000 women, a fifth of the global cases, die every year in India from cervical cancer, a largely preventable malady. With intensified screening, developed countries have considerably reduced the deaths from cervical cancer; a leading expert has offered India help to benefit from the global experience in terms of prioritizing screening and prevention.
“The story of cervical cancer screening has considerably reduced the risk of women dying from cervical cancer in the developed countries. The situation in less developed countries where women are dying each year because of cervical cancer is scandalous, according to Professor Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney and an acknowledged global expert on the subject.
Jacobs, who has worked in the field for over 30 years, said this while delivering the inaugural evidence policy lecture organised by The George Institute for Global Health India on Monday.
UNSW, a top-50 global university, has set up an Institute for Global Development to drive collaborations and partnerships in areas like public health, education, photovoltaics, and sustainability.
According to a study by The George Institute for Global Health India, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) prevalence in India is 88 to 97 per cent among women with cervical cancer.
“Cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India, can be checked with effective screening and access to timely treatment,” the study noted.
A report by Global Burden of Disease (GBD) also suggested that cervical cancer in less developed countries entails four times higher risk compared to women in developed countries. Jacobs said intensified screening in developed countries has considerably reduced the risk of women dying from cervical cancer.
Australian High Commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu, said that her country’s High Commission in India had launched a social media campaign to clear much of the misinformation prevalent on the issue, particularly in rural India. Talking about the Australia-India health partnership, she said health has been identified as one of the key areas of co-operation in Australia’s new economic strategy towards India.
Professor Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health, India, also pointed that if India is to achieve universal health coverage as envisaged under the Sustainable Development Goals, it needs to make women’s cancer an integral part of its health policy.