Zapping cancer in remote areas

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More than 11,000 women die due to cervical cancer every year in Bangladesh. Cervical cancer has hardly any symptom at an early stage when it is completely treatable. Most of the patients seek for aid at a stage when the cancer has already spread throughout the body. Therefore, early detection is necessary to cure and prevent the disease. The situation is worse in hard-to-reach areas where women do not easily get any access to health services, let alone gain information about cervical cancer.

The aforementioned points were highlighted in a workshop titled “Cervical Cancer Prevention and Management in Hard to Reach Areas of Bangladesh in a Sustainable Approach” at the Institute of Public Health in Mohakhali, Dhaka.

Friendship organised the workshop with support of Non-Communicable Disease Control Program (NCDC) of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), in collaboration with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Female Cancer Foundation (FCF), Netherlands.

“We know the risk factors of cervical cancer and we know how to prevent it. That is why we prioritise this disease. If we screen women every six months and provide them with treatment at an early stage, we would be able to cure it. Friendship has been working on cervical cancer prevention, one which is appreciative,” said Professor Dr Md Shamiul Islam, director, Hospital and Clinics, DGHS who attended the workshop as chief guest.

He also stressed the need for a joint effort with NGOs to provide the service to women in hard-to-reach areas of Bangladesh, in respect of cervical cancer screening service.

Runa Khan, Founder & Executive Director of Friendship chaired the workshop. She said, “It took us more than one year to convince people in the hard to reach areas that cervical cancer screening is necessary. Today, those women are coming to us by themselves. Nearly 50 thousand women have been screened in the last few years and almost 1500 were found cervical cancer positive. 20 were sent to referred, and rests were treated by us”. She also urged for government’s continuing support to fight against cervical cancer.

“We need to increase awareness and demand screening services by introducing a low cost effective model,” said Dr Kazi Golam Rasul, deputy director and head of Health, Friendship. Dr Mohammad Atiqullah Sayeed, program specialist, Health Services, Friendship emphasised that if mid-level service providers receive training as per the national curriculum, there would be more skilled manpower trained for the future. Dr Naheed Nazrul, team leader, Hospital Services, Friendship and Dr Omar Ali Sarker, program manager, NCDC, DGHS also presented in the workshop.

Dr Faruque Ahmed Khan, associate professor, CME; Dr Jala Ahmed, principal, IHT; Dr Zebunnesaa Hossain, principal, FWVIT, Azimpur; Dr Habibullah Talukder Ruskin, associate professor, Cancer Epidemiology National Institute for Cancer Research Hospital, Mohakhali; Dr Zahidur Rahman, secretary, State Medical Faculty; Dr Ashish Kumar Shaha, deputy director, Medical Education, DGHS; Dr Mithila Faruque, assistant professor and head of The Department Non Communicable Diseases, Faculty of Public Health, Bangladesh University Health Science, Mirpur; and Shaikh Md Zunaed Ali, executive director, SlopB Bangladesh attended the workshop as special guests.

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