SALC’s work on cervical cancer benefitted from our attendance at the 6th Stop Cervical Cancer in Africa Conference (SCCA) which ended in Zambia on Tuesday the 24th of July 2012. The objective of the conference was to encourage participants to mobilise their governments to increase and secure funding for cervical cancer prevention.
The three day conference which focused on the theme “A New Era in Cervical Cancer Prevention” attracted over 1,000 participants from 25 countries, including Congo-Brazzaville, Belgium, Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. Among those who attended were the First Lady of Mozambique Dr. Maria da Luz Guebuza, First Lady of Swaziland Queen Nomsa LaMatsebula while the Congo Brazzaville, Gambia, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe sent representatives to the conference. Other attendees included researchers, health professionals, policy makers, cancer advocates and representatives from non-governmental organisations.
This year’s conference updated and educated stakeholders on recent developments in cervical cancer prevention in Africa. It was noted that pharmaceutical companies Merck and GSK have been contributing vaccines against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer to several countries in Africa.
Furthermore a declaration endorsed by the Forum of African First Ladies Against Breast & Cervical Cancer was presented. This declaration urged respective Governments to do the following, among other things : 1) develop comprehensive cancer programmes that encompass prevention, treatment and palliative care services; 2) scale-up and support local research efforts on all cancer related diseases and build waiting homes to accommodate cancer patients ; 3) provide an urgent response for the provision for the equipment and drugs necessary to facilitate screen and treat programmes as well as investing in improved counseling for patients and families ; 4) increase services closer to women and 5) create legal backing for traditional leaders to effectively assist in decreasing harmful traditional practices.
SALC’s research in this area has shown that cervical cancer management in southern Africa remains under-recognised and under-prioritised. The declaration and commitment of the Forum of African First Ladies Against Breast & Cervical Cancer African to fight cervical cancer is encouraging and certainly a concrete step to ensure improvement of access to much needed cervical cancer services in Africa.
For more on SALC’s work in this area click SALC at SCCA 2012.