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Former Wits SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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By Lungi Langa | Aug 06, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

DELEGATES to an African conference on cervical cancer have vowed to raise awareness of the disease, one of the leading causes of death among women on thecontinent.

Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, one of South Africa's first ladies, appealed to the 3rd Stop Cervical Cancer in Africa conference in Cape Town yesterday to pay tribute to the millions of women who have died from the illness.

"A healthy nation consists of a healthy working class and women are a very important part of our economy," she said.

The focus of this year's conference was on improving cervical cancer prevention through vaccination, screening and treatment.

Delivering the keynote address, Molefi Sefularo, the Deputy Minister of Health, said his department was considering making available two cervical cancer vaccines.

"We still need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and decide which of the two vaccines would be more beneficial to the country," he said.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the department planned to educate pupils about the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer. He said the department was committed to acquiring resources to make the cervical cancer vaccine available.

"We need to strengthen our cancer control programme," Motsoaledi said.

He said the department planned to conduct a review of the National Cancer Control Programme before the end of the year.

Motsoaledi said the cancer guidelines formed the foundation for the department's cervical cancer screening programme.

But Motsoaledi cited implementation as the greatest challenge.

He said the department had established a cervical cancer task team made up of experts to draw up guidelines.

Misconceptions among rural communities about cervical cancer were among the challenges facing the government in fighting the disease .

Madiba-Zuma said it was important to improve the accessibility of pap smears in rural areas.

The founder and director of the Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation, Princess Nikky Onyeri, welcomed support from the government.

"Only through partnerships can we ensure wide access to the vaccines and save lives," she said.


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