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By Public Relations Unit, Ministry of Lands Housing and Country Planning

The University of Sierra Leone Teaching Hospital Complex (USLTHC) in Freetown in collaboration with Ramsy Medical Laboratory and the Well Woman Clinic has launched a Public and Private Partnership Pilot Programme on Cervical Cancer Screening.

Organized a day’s high-level stakeholders’ interactive session at the Sierra Leone-china friendship hospital in Jui.

Together the USLTHC, Ramsy medical laboratories and the Well woman clinic have a wealth of experience/experience in laboratory medicine and women’s Reproductive health. This pilot programme will initially screen 200 women using the pap smear method, and consolidate efforts made by other partners in order to save the lives of many women in the country.

The initiative which has been lunched on International women’s day, aims to reach women from all walks of life, and encourage them to include cervical cancer screening as part of their regular/routine health checks, so that more lives will be saved through early detection.

The event brought together representatives of relevant institutions on health to get a first-time interaction with the new Minister of Health and sanitation Dr. Austin H Demby.

The chairperson of the university of Sierra Leone teaching hospital complex Dr. Sonia Spencer in her opening remarks says Today, more than 100 years later, we are using IWD and rightly so, to celebrate the tremendous efforts made by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, hence the theme for this year is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”.

Women have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in covid-19 response and recovery efforts. Today, there is more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all.

Our partnership also decided to use this day to highlight concerns regarding women’s access to information and services and raise awareness about the importance of screening for cervical cancer, a silent killer.

Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the uterus from the vagina). 99% of cervical cancer cases are linked to infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV), an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact. Although, most infection with HPV resolve spontaneously and cause no symptoms, persistent infection can cause cervical cancer in women.

We diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it detected early and managed effectively. Cancers diagnosed in late stage can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.

This cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, an estimated 570000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 312,000 of them died from the disease.

In Sierra Leone, WHO data published in 2018 showed that cervical cancer deaths reached 396 or 0.49% of total deaths for that year. Anecdotal evidence estimate the figure to be much higher, to the extent that it has become the 2nd most common cancer responsible for the deaths of Sierra Leonean women.

In 2019, a survey done in Sierra Leone by open data Sierra Leone, to assess the availability of diagnostic services for cervical cancer in the country found it to be very low. However, government has plans for the construction of a fully equipped ultra-modern diagnostic cancer center, at Kerry town.

This partnership and the Ministry of Health and sanitation are aware that cervical cancer screening is not new in this country.