The Al-Hayaat Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with the Women’s Affairs Committee and the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the Islamic University College of Ghana (IUCG), has organised a cervical cancer programme to raise awareness of cervical cancer among the students.
Organised on the theme: “Women’s Health, a Catalyst for a Healthy Society”, the programme brought together some medical personnel from the Iran Clinic in Accra, the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences of the University of Ghana (UG), as well as students from the university.
The Al-Hayaat Foundation aims at sustaining the awareness of the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through health development strategies.
Some of the other projects undertaken by the foundation since its establishment are girl-child education, raising public awareness of maternal and infant mortality, advisory services, advocacy on health issues and counselling.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President and Founder of the foundation, Hajia Hanatu Abubakar, advised women and young girls in the country to prioritise their health needs and go for regular check-ups to help them control and manage their health conditions effectively.
She said over 400,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide every year and out of the number, about 275, 000 women died from the disease, with 80 per cent of the deaths recorded in developing countries, including Ghana.
“We, therefore, saw the need to raise the awareness and educate our young ladies on the need to go for check-ups because it is during these sessions that any abnormality could be detected,” she said.
She also called on other NGOs and civil society organisations to help in the fight against the spread of the disease, adding that underestimating the health needs of women would seriously affect the country’s quest to achieve accelerated growth, since women constituted more than 50 per cent of the country’s population.
Periodic gynaecological test
Highlighting the need for periodic gynecological tests among women, a gynaecologist of the Iran Clinic in Accra, Dr Mrs Satyavtei Sackey, said such tests involved manual pelvic examination, breast examination to check the breast for lumps, pap smear test to detect all conditions related to cervical cancer and an HPV screening to check for infections that caused cervical cancer.
She said all the tests were important as they helped to determine whether a woman was indeed healthy and free from diseases that were harmful to her health.
She, therefore, urged them to visit the hospital regularly as thousands of women die every year because of their failure to have an annual gynaecological exam.
Pap cancer tests
Speaking on the cervix and its relation to cervical cancer, a cytotechnologist of the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences of UG, Madam Lois Botwe, said cervical cancer occurred when abnormal cells on the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina, grew out of control.
She added that cervical cancer could be successfully treated when identified early, adding that it was usually found at a very early stage through a pap smear test.
Additionally, she said cervical cancer was caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV), which could be contracted through sexual intercourse.
Madam Botwe, therefore, encouraged the students to go for the pap test to know their health status and seek early treatment if cervical cancer is detected,