Cervical Cancer Undermines Gender Equality in Africa

From AfricaCan End Poverty Tue Nov 27 2012, 17:13:33

This blog post is co-authored with: Sheila Dutta

The 2012 World Development Report (WDR) "Gender Equality and Development" found that, while many disadvantages faced by women and girls have shrunk thanks to development, major gaps remain.

A significant gap is the excess female mortality in many low- and middle income countries, especially in childhood and during reproductive years. Among the main causes of premature death and ill health among women in sub-Saharan Africa, cervical cancer --a preventable condition that usually results from a viral infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that is generally sexually transmitted-- is a major culprit. As the figure shows, the Eastern, Western and Southern African regions have the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world. Rates exceed 50 per 100,000 populations and age-standardized mortality exceeds 40 per 100,000 populations.

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among African women. This situation is due to minimal cervical cancer screening services in the continent, resulting in a significant number of patients diagnosed with advanced-stage disease. In Eastern and Southern Africa, it is compounded by the high prevalence of HIV (HIV-positive women are 4-5 times more likely to develop cervical cancer).

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