One primary reason is the lack of awareness and education regarding cervical cancer and its preventive measures.There is a lack of knowledge on the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer, in several regions of India. Delays in diagnosis and higher death rates are caused by a lack of access to healthcare services and a general ignorance of the significance of routine screenings and vaccines.
Socioeconomic factors also play a pivotal role in the rise of cervical cancer. It is frequently difficult for women living in lower-income areas to get healthcare, particularly preventive treatments like routine screenings and HPV vaccinations. Inadequate healthcare infrastructure and a lack of funding in rural areas compound the issue, making prompt diagnosis and treatment more difficult.
Cultural norms and societal attitudes towards women’s health further compound the issue. Stigmas surrounding discussions related to reproductive health and a general hesitation to seek medical help for gynaecological issues contribute to delayed diagnoses. Additionally, early marriages and a high prevalence of multiple sexual partners, often rooted in social norms, increase the risk of HPV transmission.
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Inadequate implementation of public health programs and policies also hampers efforts to curb cervical cancer. Even though screening facilities and immunizations are readily available, their reach is restricted, and extensive awareness campaigns frequently fall short. Addressing the rising incidence of cervical cancer in India requires bolstering the healthcare system, raising awareness through focused educational initiatives, and facilitating access to preventive care.
The rise of cervical cancer in India is a multifaceted issue influenced by a combination of factors, including lack of awareness, socioeconomic disparities, cultural norms, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure. To properly combat this expanding public health risk, a comprehensive strategy that considers these interconnected challenges is necessary.
(Author: Dr Priyanka Suhag, Consultant, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital (R), Delhi)