Advocates unite to commemorate Day of Action against Cervical Cancer
INQUIRER.net BrandRoom / 12:05 PM December 01, 2021
Cervical cancer is an example of a preventable disease yet it is the second most common cancer among Filipino women. An estimated 7,277 new cases of, and 3,807 deaths due to, cervical cancer are expected to occur every year. Cervical cancer is by far the most common HPV-related disease.Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributable to HPV infection.
In line with the first anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s launch of the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, the Philippines joins the celebration by participating in the GLOW TEAL global campaign through the efforts of non-profit organization, CerviQ.
GLOW TEAL aims to raise cervical cancer awareness by illuminating landmarks worldwide with the color teal — the color associated with cervical cancer. On November 15, landmarks across the country, particularly in Quezon City; Naga; Cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapulapu; Municipalities of Cordova, Consolacion, and Tuburan in the Province of Cebu; and DPWH Cebu 6th District Engineering Office, glow in teal for a cervical cancer free future.
CerviQ founder Dr. Jesus Randy “Bogs” Rivera, Inner Wheel Clubs of the Philippines’ president Yolanda Wycoco, Inner Wheel district chairman Jovita “Bing” De Jesus, Inner Wheel National Secretary Minnie Rualos Elizata and members and the Inner Wheel Clubs of the Philippines, Inc. and Wheel Can Cerv showed their enthusiasm through forming the teal ribbon – a symbol for cervical cancer awareness.
CerviQ is an organization that focuses on cervical cancer awareness, prevention, early detection, referrals for treatment, and a data repository for comparative studies and research purposes. CerviQ together with its partner MSD in the Philippines through its Guard Against HPV campaign advocates a world where cervical cancer is eliminated as a public health problem through cervical screening and active vaccination.
According to Dr. Rivera, a radiation oncologist practitioner, getting vaccinated against cervical cancer is important to help prevent the disease. “Getting vaccinated combined with regular screening, we can help prevent cervical cancer,” he said.
The lack of HPV immunization, failure of cervical screening and treatment, lack of awareness and the inadequacy of facilities and expertise are some of the challenges in the Philippine setting. Wycoco said they are working on as well to offer free services to remove the stigma and fear of getting checkups. “For those who are less fortunate, we want to give it for free. Through various fund-raising projects of Inner Wheel, we work on it for free like cervical screening which we started already in NCR. We also plan Cervix On Wheels where we will go to the rural areas with the help of LGUs,” Wycoco shared.
To help reduce cervical cancer, efforts must be aligned and accelerated. According to the WHO‘s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, Every country must reach the following global targets by 2030:
Vaccination: 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15.
Screening: 70% of women screened using a high-performance test by the age of 35, and again by the age of 45.
Treatment: 90% of women with pre-cancer treated and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed.
Aside from creating awareness and taking steps to prevent cervical cancer, Dr. Bogs reiterated the importance of other partnerships – with the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS) for their expertise, with the kumadronas in the rural areas, and with the Department of Health (DOH) to create a comprehensive cervical cancer network where women who reach the age of 30 years old are invited for a free screening. “Imagine what we can do – putting it all together and at the heart of it is technology, we can eliminate cervical cancer,” he said.
WHO estimates that achieving and sustaining the 90:70:90 targets will avert 74 million new cases of cervical cancer and 62 million deaths in 78 low- and middle-income countries in the coming decades.