Last Updated: May 14. 2009 12:14AM UAE / May 13. 2009 8:14PM GMT
DUBAI // Doctors have called for a national cervical cancer vaccination and screening programme to catch cases earlier and reduce the rate of the second most common cancer found in women, one that has seen progressively higher incidence in the UAE.
Cervical cancer affects 9.9 women in every 100,000, according to figures by Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), almost twice the incidence in the broader Middle East, which amounts to nearly five in every 100,000.
It afflicts women at a rate second only to breast cancer, but 70 per cent of cases are diagnosed in the late stages. At that point, only one in three women has a chance of survival. There is no co-ordinated screening programme for cervical cancer in the UAE, as there is in countries where most cases are detected in the early stages.
Dr Saad Aswad is a senior consultant gynaecologist and oncologist – the only specialist of his kind in the UAE – at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. He compiled a detailed report on a proposed screening programme for cervical cancer drawing on the expertise of more than 40 health professionals and forwarded it to the Ministry of Health in 2004. There has still been no move to implement any of the plans. MoH officials were not available yesterday to comment.
“We need to do something to protect the women,” Dr Aswad said. “Cervical cancer is a cancer we can prevent. Why are we not doing this across the country? If the Ministry of Health introduced it, I think everyone would follow.”
While schoolgirls in Abu Dhabi are offered the Gardasil vaccination for up to Dh50 (US$13.60) for the required three doses, it can cost up to Dh1,900 in Dubai and is not as widely available in other emirates.
Dr Aswad said the preventive vaccine should be available across the whole country.
“We must push for this to be nationwide. It is much easier to implement prevention than cure.”
Comment from Leslie –
The march for the vaccine goes on…it is discouraging. How can so many adverse reactions, and deaths of innocent be ignored…but of course, the autism community is already familiar with this scenario.
Once again women are put at risk for their health – with no accountability from the men in their lives. Oh, yes, unprotected sex? Please the man, take artificial hormones to protect from pregnancy, take the HPV vaccine to prevent STD’s and cervical cancer – I wonder what will be happening to these women in 40 years…let’s see breast and ovarian cancers and dementia?