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Can South Sudan Eradicate Cervical Cancer by 2030?

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louis Buyisiwe

Apr 8, 2024

Health Organization (WHO) has outlined a "90-70-90" strategy to combat cervical cancer

Dr Idyoro Ojukwu, the first female Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from South Sudan. She is  a resident obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Mater Misercordiae Hospital in Nairobi.
Meet South Sudan's first female gynaecologist, Dr Idyoro Ojukwu

South Sudan faces a grim health crisis, highlighted by the tragic story of Keji*, a young woman whose life was marred by hardship and disease, culminating in her death from cervical cancer at just 20 years old. Dr. Idyoro Ojukwu, South Sudan's first female Obstetrician and Gynecologist, shared Keji's story at the WomenLift Health conference in Tanzania to illustrate the dire state of maternal and women's health in the country.

With a maternal mortality rate exceeding 1,150 deaths per 100,000 live births, South Sudan is among the nations with the highest such rates globally. Factors contributing to this include infections, hemorrhaging, and obstructed labor, compounded by cultural norms that deter women from seeking professional medical help.

The lack of cervical cancer treatment facilities and screening programs is a significant challenge. The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined a "90-70-90" strategy to combat cervical cancer, aiming for high vaccination, screening, and treatment rates by 2030. However, South Sudan is currently far from reaching these targets, with no established screening or HPV vaccination programs.

Dr. Ojukwu emphasized that,

" The widespread issues of sexual violence, child marriages, and limited access to contraception, which exacerbate the health risks for women and girls in the country. She recalled her experiences in Torit, where the lack of resources led to rudimentary medical practices", a situation that, according to her, likely persists today.

In her call to action, Dr. Ojukwu urged for global awareness and support to improve South Sudan's healthcare system, emphasizing the need for a collaborative effort between the government, private sector, and NGOs. She advocated for the implementation of a national HPV vaccination program and stressed the importance of empowering women to lead and effect change.

The story of Keji and Dr. Ojukwu's insights shed light on the critical need for international support and local initiatives to address the healthcare challenges in South Sudan, especially those affecting women and girls.

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