KAMPALA – Uganda was one of the first countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to adopt the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine as part of the routine immunization schedule in 2015, targeting 10-year-old girls in both the school- and community-based approaches to HPV vaccine delivery.
The Vaccine is meant to protect girls and women against cancer of the cervix.
To date, many young girls have been vaccinated against HPV securing their lives against cervical cancer. In addition, Ministry of Health (MOH) is intensifying efforts to create awareness on cervical cancer prevention and control to all key stakeholders, young girls and boys, women of reproductive age and the general population.
Uganda Cancer Institute says that the main cervical cancer screening method has been Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) but uptake has been low.
Consequently, screening coverage has also been low with a recent national survey reporting less than 8% among all women of reproductive age.
The Ministry in collaboration with partners is expanding screening and treatment of cervical pre-cancer to more public health facilities including lower level health center IIIs across the country with the aim of decentralizing and taking the services close to the population.
“MOH has started rolling out thermal ablation, a novel World Health Organization (WHO) recommended treatment technology that is effective for management of cervical pre-cancerous lesions. Such treatment will be made available at health centre Ills and above. Management of advanced precancerous lesions that require treatment with Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) is also being further decentralized to improve access to these services.”
The Ministry is also introducing more accurate and highly performing tests that detect the DNA of the virus that causes cervical cancer, leveraging the wide footprint of molecular testing devices such as GeneXpert across the country and the currently available high throughput platforms at the Uganda National Health Laboratory and Diagnostics Services in Kampala.
Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) the national comprehensive cancer centre and a regional centre of excellence for cancer care in the East African region offers a wide range of cervical cancer care services including, cervical screening, cryotherapy and thermal ablation, LEEP, cervical biopsy/histopathological diagnosis, hysterectomy, radiation, chemotherapy and palliative care.
Government says these interventions will ultimately reduce the risk of women developing cervical cancer by ensuring that more women access screening services and that all those that screen positive for cervical pre-cancer are offered the appropriate.
Cervical cancer is one of the leading cancers and causes of death among women world over.