The World Health Organisation African Region (WHO AFRO) has entered into a partnership with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) in a bid to control and prevent cervical cancer in Africa.

The partnership, named ‘AFRO Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative’, will be responsible for creating awareness across the region.

Under the partnership, women, as well as other healthcare professionals, will be empowered in order to increase screening, treatment and prevention rates of cervical and breast cancers.

WHO Africa Regional Office Non-Communicable Diseases acting director Dr Abdikamal Alisalad said: "There are many obstacles to cervical cancer screening in resource-constrained countries, generally attributed to the lack of infrastructure, as well as technical, medical and financial resources, and a lack of awareness and education on cervical cancer among women and healthcare providers.

"Many lives can be saved if public awareness is strengthened on the importance of testing and early treatment."

The partnership is supported by some funding, as well as in-kind contributions from IFPMA, and will incorporate cancer prevention and control activities in four countries with high rates of cervical cancer.

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The four countries include Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon and Swaziland.

It will also assist healthcare providers in improving their knowledge about screening strategies.

"Many lives can be saved if public awareness is strengthened on the importance of testing and early treatment."

IFPMA director general Eduardo Pisani said: "Partnerships are the way forward when dealing with complex challenges such as those posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

"Working across sectors enables partners to generate health outcomes that are transformational, hence sustainable.

"We are delighted to support WHO AFRO in implementing strategies that help alleviate the NCD burden in low and middle-income countries."

In sub-Saharan Africa, the risk of death among women suffering from either breast or cervical cancer is much higher than in high-income countries due to lack of proper awareness.

Image: Cervical cancer visible on a T2-weighted saggital MR image of the pelvis. Photo: courtesy of my own work / Wikipedia.