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Sri Lanka accelerates efforts to combat Cervical Cancer

1 March 2024 03:15 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Colombo- In a bid to address the pressing issue of cervical cancer, which stands as a formidable health challenge for women in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka has doubled down on efforts to tackle the disease.

This was evident with a recent panel discussion convened a distinguished group of experts including Dr. Chithramalee de Silva, Dr. Ramani Punchihewa, Dr. J Padmaka Silva, and Nirmali Samaratunga, chaired by Dr. Sandeep Sewlikar. 

The discussion, moderated by Dr. Sewlikar, delved into the initiatives and strategies aimed at eliminating cervical cancer from Sri Lanka.

The discussion unveiled stark numbers, stating that cervical cancer ranks as the second most prevalent cancer among women in Sri Lanka, with approximately 1,407 diagnoses and 780 deaths each year. Without intervention, projections paint a grim picture, forecasting a potential death toll of 58,754 by 2070 and 115,137 by 2120.

One of the focal points of the discussion was the Government of Sri Lanka's proactive stance towards cervical cancer elimination. Notable efforts include the implementation of programs such as the Well Women Clinic and a pilot project in the Kalutara district, which aimed to analyze different screening methods among married women aged 35 to 45.

Key findings from the Kalutara project highlighted the effectiveness of various screening methodologies including Pap smear, Liquid-Based Cytology (LBC), and HPV DNA testing. Particularly, the study revealed that HPV DNA screening showed a higher detection rate of Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) compared to other methods.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation of utilizing HPV-DNA based detection as the primary screening method, commencing at the age of 30, was also discussed. Panelists emphasized the importance of expanding screening programs to encompass a broader demographic.

Dr. Chithramalee de Silva, Director of Maternal and Child Health, underscored the government's commitment to introducing HPV DNA-based screening gradually across the nation. Dr. Padmaka Silva, National Program Manager for the Well Woman Program, elaborated on the comprehensive approach, highlighting vaccination, early screening, and education as essential components in the fight against cervical cancer.

Furthermore, Dr. Sandeep Sewlikar of Roche Diagnostics India & Neighbouring Markets expressed appreciation for Sri Lanka's efforts and pledged support as a diagnostics provider. With WHO prequalification for their cobas HPV test, Roche Diagnostics aims to bolster screening efforts and contribute to overcoming this preventable cancer.

The discussion concluded with a resounding call to action, emphasizing the need for a multipronged strategy encompassing policy advocacy, health system strengthening, increased coverage and equity, quality of care, and community awareness.

Pix by Nimalsiri Edirisinghe


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