(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) A total of 58 people died from cervical cancer in the UAE in 2018, and 108 new cases were reported in the same year, according to an interactive map that was launched on March 4, 2019.
The map was introduced on International HPV Awareness Day and showed the growing burden of HPV and cervical cancer in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
Created by the Mena Coalition for HPV Elimination and the Tunisian Centre for Public Health, a member of the Eastern Mediterranean Non-communicable Disease Alliance, this map serves as a database to inform and influence policymakers in the region to step up action around these preventable diseases, which kill thousands of women each year.
The UAE and Libya are the only two countries in the region that have included the vaccine in their National Immunisation Programme, the pilot project of which rolls out this month.
In 2018, over 7,600 women in the Mena region died from cervical cancer that was caused by HPV, according to the latest data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), published in the Global Cancer Observatory.
Many others died due to other HPV-related cancers, including vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, mouth and throat cancers.
"Future policy interventions to lift the burden of HPV and save lives must be informed by a strong understanding of disease prevalence data and the latest research on cost-effective best practices," said Dr Shible Sahbani, regional reproductive health advisor for Arab states, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In addition to illustrating cervical cancer rates across the region, this new resource also highlights the status of HPV vaccine implementation at the national level and includes country profile pages with the latest news and publications on HPV and cervical cancer.
"We need more data and research to support action against HPV and cervical cancer at the national and regional levels," said Dr Ibtihal Fadhil, founder and chair of Eastern Mediterranean Non-communicable Disease Alliance. "Across the region, stepping up preventative efforts using a comprehensive approach is key to eliminating cervical cancer."
In UAE, about 2.3 per cent of women are estimated to have HPV type 16 or 18 at a given time, which causes approximately 72.4 per cent of invasive cervical cancers in the country.
A 2018 study found that the most common strains of HPV were HPV types 16, 31 and 18. Another study from 2014 showed that 10 per cent of patients tested had HPV.
Cervical cancer, caused by HPV, is the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the UAE, causing at least 56 deaths annually among the population of 1.9 million women who are aged 15 years and older are at risk for the disease.
Between 2012 and 2018, the number of cervical cancer deaths in a year had doubled (28 in 2012 to 56 in 2018), and if decisive action is not taken at the national level, the annual deaths will more than quadruple by 2040, reaching 246 deaths per year, the report said.
In the UAE, at least 108 women are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, it added.