Rwanda Being the First Country to Possibly Wipe Out Cervical Cancer

Rwanda and sexually transmitted infections

With cervical cancer being one of the most common causes of death all around the world, especially in high burden countries such as Rwanda, the people in Rwanda have made a great step forward, focusing on wiping out cervical cancer altogether. With the techniques and methods that they have developed over the years, the rates of cervical cancer have declined, offering their residents an opportunity to live a healthier, longer life.

Rwanda and the possibility to completely wipe out cervical cancer

Cervical cancer has represented a potentially life-threatening health issue for the longest time now, accounting for more than 68 000 new cancer cases in Africa. Every 23 out of 100 000 women is estimated to die from cervical cancer, with every 34 out of 100 000 women being affected by it. These are some frightening numbers.

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus), with HPV-16 and HPV-18 being the two most common types of HPV out of the 100 different ones that are most frequently leading to cervical cancer.

Read more: 1 in 9 men has oral HPV

Being the most common type of cancer in their country, the people of Rwanda, Africa have decided to put a stop to it. It was 2010 when Rwanda first decided to make wiping out cervical cancer a health priority, agreeing on a partnership with the pharmaceutical company called Merck that was supposed to deliver the much-needed HPV vaccines and with that, contribute to the preventing HPV in the first place.

It wasn’t easy to raise awareness

It took the authorities in Rwanda a long time to raise the much-needed awareness and convince the parents to agree on getting their children vaccinated. There are different reasons as to why that was the case. While some deny to talk about reproductive health and think of it as a taboo, others believe that by vaccinating their children, they ought to become promiscuous in the near future, engaging in frequent sexual activity with multiple sexual partners, thus exposing themselves to the other common STDs.

But since then, the authorities in Rwanda have succeeded at changing more and more people’s opinions, helping to protect younger lives, thus becoming potentially the first country to wipe cervical cancer.  A lot of things have changed since Rwanda first decided to focus on eliminating cervical cancer. Nowadays, they are offering the newest vaccine called Gardasil 9, which works by preventing nine different types of HPV.

But it is not only their prevention method that has improved over the years. Today, Rwanda also focuses on proper screening and managing the cases of cervical cancer, offering support along the way. They are now offering proper immunization for other dangerous diseases such as rubella, polio, and measles, helping the lifespan of the people of Rwanda to double between 1995 and 2011.

Effective prevention was key

Since 2010, which is when the authorities in Rwanda first decided to make a great change in the lives of their female residents, the rates of cervical cancer and HPV infections have successfully declined. It was all about effective prevention through immunization that has been made available and offered to everyone, in addition to offering proper management and treatment that has helped increase the life expectancy of the people of Rwanda.

References

https://www.afro.who.int/news/cervical-cancer-common-amongst-african-women

https://travelnoire.com/rwanda-could-be-the-first-country-to-eliminate-cervical-cancer

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/30/health/rwanda-first-eliminate-cervical-cancer-africa-partner/index.html