A workshop on ‘Resource Mobilization for Cervical Cancer Screening & Management in Remote Areas of Bangladesh’ was held on September 26 at a local hotel to discuss on how to effectively mobilise local and national resources to create community-level awareness and provide screening and capacity development services to women in remote areas of Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, cervical cancer is reported to be the second most prevalent cancer among the female population after breast cancer.
A 2014 estimate under ICO Information centre on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) indicates that 11,956 females are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, out of whom 6,582 die.
In the hard-to-reach and most underprivileged river islands, women do not even have adequate awareness, let alone have access to its treatment. Friendship, a non-governmental organisation, has intervened in those areas by providing them screening and treatment services for this disease.
Prior to providing such services, Friendship also had to design and execute behaviour change campaigns so that rural women voluntarily participate in the screening programme.
Additional Director General, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Prof. Dr A H M Enayet Hossain attended the workshop as the Chief Guest. Founder & Executive Director of Friendship Mrs Runa Khan was the Chair of the event.
The workshop was also attended by other speakers and guests from government, corporate and development sectors to discuss and present ideas on effective ways of resource mobilisation for cervical cancer screening and management in remote areas of Bangladesh.
Speaking on the workshop Prof. Dr A H M Enayet Hossain said, screening of cervical cancer is on the government agenda, public-private partnership is necessary to address this issue. A low-cost intervention is necessary for remote areas so that government can work in collaboration.
Associate Profession of Cancer Epidemiology, National Institute for Cancer Research Hospital Dr Habibullah Talukder Raskin emphasised that non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and cancer screening need to be incorporated with primary healthcare.
The government aims to provide screening of all kinds of NCD cancers including breast cancer, cervical cancer and oral cancer. He also mentioned that Friendship can collaborate with the government by exchanging patient data to be incorporated within government’s cancer data capturing tool.
Program Manager (PHI), NCDC, DGHS Dr Tanveer Ahmed Choudhury said, Friendship’s well organised cervical cancer screening and management programme is well aligned with governments plan.
Founder and Executive Director of Friendship Runa Khan said we have built a platform that provides integrated development services, which ensures sustainability of our projects. Cervical cancer screening and management in remote areas require effective utilisation of available resources through a partnership between government and NGOs. Only through partnerships, overhead of such projects can be minimised to ensure sustainability.
Head of Health, Friendship Dr. Kazi Golam Rasul mentioned that from two floating hospitals, Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital & Emirates Friendship Hospital and two health clinics in the north, which are fully equipped with necessary medical equipment and expertise to provide the treatment for the cervical cancer patients, Friendship has been providing the service in northern areas of Bangladesh.
With the support of government and private sectors this programme needs to be further extended to remote and vulnerable areas in the north as well as in the south. Due to limited accessibility, affordability and lack of access to mass media awareness, these people have limited access to primary health facility.
Team Leader, Hospital Services, Health Sector at Friendship Dr Naheed Nazrul highlighted that Friendship screened more than 51,700 women since 2012 out of which 1,580 were found VIA positive.