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Cervical Cancer Prevention Workshop Samoa February 2017

28 Nov 2018

The meeting was opened by the Hon Tuitama Leao Tuitama (Minister of Health, Samoa), who gave an overview of the cervical cancer problem in Samoa (no screening programme) and the need for prevention and screening to address the problem, recognising that cervical cancer is a preventable disease.

 

The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical cancer was discussed (HPV causes almost 100% of cervical cancer) and the importance of vaccination as a primary means of prevention of cervical cancer was acknowledged, and that it goes hand-in-hand with screening.  The opportunities that HPV testing provides compared to cytology (accessibility, no requirement for trained cytologists, ability to test and treat women on the same day) was recognised.

 

There was discussion about community-based screening, supported by the Women's groups in the villages.  HPV testing and treatment could be community-based at the district hospitals, or this could be a mobile service (bus) if considered culturally appropriate.  Education programmes, without providing information overload (recognising that there are several different programmes already underway for other diseases) are a priority so that both women and men are informed that cervical cancer is preventable.

 

The National Health Service is the primary healthcare provider, and is ideally situated to implement a cervical screening programme and to integrate screening into existing health services.  Screening would have economic benefit to Samoa as cancer treatment requires referral overseas, and is very costly.

 

There is the potential for Samoa to lead the way in cervical screening in the Pacific, with significant health benefits for Samoan women.

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