Cervical cancer in Nigeria is a major public health issue, as the country has 56.2 million women who are at risk of having the disease. Cervical cancer ranks second on the list of most common cancers in women ranging between the ages of 15 and 44, in Nigeria.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a virus that commonly transmits through sex, causes cervical cancer. It can transmit from mother to child. Cervical cancer is treatable when one detects it early and manages it clinically. According to WHO, HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
In a 2021 report, the HPV Information Center stated that there were 12,000 new cases in 2020, while almost 8,000 women die annually from cervical cancer in Nigeria. This type of cancer affects the cervix. The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina in a woman and is located between the uterus and the vagina. The cervix functions in various processes such as menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and also the protection of reproductive organs.
Treating Cervical Cancer in Nigeria
The poor health service system makes accessibility to the treatment of cervical cancer in Nigeria difficult. Being a low and middle-income country, Nigeria’s health system lacks cervical cancer services. Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable, but without the necessary vaccines and other health services, prevention and treatment are difficult.
Although HPV vaccines are effective, they cost a lot and are quite unaffordable. A dose of HPV vaccine costs no less than 13,000 Naira ($29.18), three doses are necessary and the doses are only available in private health facilities. The scarcity of vaccines also stresses the ones who can afford them.
In November 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a cervical cancer screening and treatment project in Anambra state, Awka. The project aims at the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer in women of productive age across the state.
Some of the medical equipment and supplies that WHO donated include “four examination couches, 20 anglepoise lamps, 50 Cusco’s speculum, 15 instrument trolleys with wheels, 50 disposable aprons, 50 kidney dishes, 20 mackintoshes standard size, 100 packets of swab sticks, 10 punch biopsy forceps, 150 liters of 90% ethanol solution, etc.”
WHO has decided to train 100 health workers on the processes involving cervical cancer screening services and also provide ongoing technical support to ensure the project achieves its goal.
Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN)
Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), collaborates with local government authorities and primary health care systems, in a bid to eliminate cost barriers, it also “conducts mobile outreach clinics offering a wide range of sexual reproductive health services, including cancer services, to vulnerable communities in hard-to-reach, poor and marginalized areas” free of cost.
The intervention of WHO and PPFN in various states of the country brings more awareness about cervical cancer. Making screening more available will make early detection and prevention possible.
– Oluwagbohunmi Bajela