- Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer and is considered the third most frequent cancer among women in the UAE
- More than 1.8 million women are aged 15 years or older in the UAE and may be at risk of developing cervical cancer;
- It is estimated that approximately 530,000 women around the world developed cervical cancer in 2012, according to the World Health Organization
United Arab Emirates, Dubai May 21, 2018 : MSD (NYSE: MRK) recently hosted a round-table to address the rising issue of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the increasing risk of cervical cancer in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The event, attended by experts from across the region highlighted the importance of early detection and regular screening for cervical cancer. The experts also called for the need for governments to increase awareness campaigns around disease prevention and screening including the recommendation of the HPV vaccine.
Today, cervical cancer is the most common HPV-related disease and nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV infection. As per the World Health Organization, in 2012, it was estimated that cervical cancer accounted for 528,000 new cases around the world. It was also estimated that there were 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer, with more than 85% of these deaths occurring in less-developed regions.
As of 2017, there were more than 1.8 million women in the UAE aged 15 years or older who may be at risk of developing cervical cancer. As per the Information Centre on HPV and Cancer (ICO), current estimates indicate that every year, 93 women in the country are diagnosed with cervical cancer, with 28 deaths every year. Cervical cancer is a cancer that can be prevented, yet this type of cancer is considered the third most frequent cancer among women in the UAE and the second largest cancer killer among women in this region.
The link between HPV and cervical cancer was first discovered in the mid-1970s, and since then researchers have also discovered that HPV can cause other cancers in both men and women. In most cases, HPV clears on its own; however when the body does not clear up, certain HPV types can lead to cancers and other diseases in both males and females.
Dr. Muna Tahlak, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology & CEO of Latifa Hospital, Dubai, UAE, speaking at the event said: “We recommend women to have the HPV vaccine which is the primary prevention of cervical cancer. Early detection through screening can prevent the HPV virus developing into cancer, with Pap smear screening being most successful test to detect cervical cancer at an early stage. Yet, we are seeing that most cases of cervical cancer in the UAE are presenting for medical care in the latter stages of the disease, when chances of survival are slim and so the need for increasing education around preventative care has never been greater. ”
Dr. Saad Aswad, Consultant Gynaecology Oncology and Chair of the Obstetrician/Gynaecologist Department, Tawam Hospital added “Without proper screening and the already available vaccinations which target HPV being offered to both women and girls, it has been predicted that 52 women will die each day from cervical cancer in the MENA region by 2035 . To combat this, across the region, comprehensive screening and treatment programmes are being implemented to stop women and girls dying needlessly from a preventable cancer. In particular, Abu Dubai is leading the fight against cervical cancer, as since 2008, girls in schools have been administered the HCP vaccines free of charge.
Mazen Altaruti, AVP and Managing Director for MSD in the GCC, said: “For more than 125 years, MSD has been committed to vaccine research and development. We believe we have a role and responsibility in improving access to vaccines and quality healthcare in the gulf. We are committed to raising awareness about diseases that vaccines can help to prevent and to help adults understand how to protect their health’.’’
‘’MSD has played an important part in the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases to date. It is our goal to continue to innovate and improve the environment for vaccines across the globe, with a focus on the UAE and GCC region.’’ Altaruti added.
Introducing a vaccine against HPV in childhood immunisation programmes in the UAE has helped drastically reduce the number of women with cervical cancer. Until 2017, globally 69 countries have added HPV vaccination to their national immunization programme for girls, and 20 countries also for boys. Countries that have added the HPV vaccine to their routine immunization schedules see protecting their population against cervical cancer and other diseases caused by HPV as a high priority.