Saturday, November 07, 2015

Mobilizing Power Wives to Have Power Over Cervical Cancer: An Advocacy for Cervical Cancer Awareness

Every woman is at risk of having cervical cancer. Whatever your race, age, lifestyle, or socio-economic status, you may suddenly find yourself suffering from this medical condition. The good news is, cervical cancer can be prevented! The World Health Organization recommends screening and vaccination as a form of preventive healthcare.

love your body, get screened for and vaccinated against cervical cancer
photo credit: 
In the Filipino culture, women are celebrated as the selfless member of the family who puts her loved ones' interest over her own. However, this giving nature should also come with the values of resilience, self-confidence, and self-appreciation so we, ladies, can fully realize the fullness of our womanhood.

With this in mind, leading research-based pharmaceutical company GSK continues its campaign on cervical cancer awareness that makes women a priority. Here in the Philippines, Power Over Cervical Cancer urges Filipinas to feel empowered and do something to avoid having the disease that would prevent us to have the wonderful, meaningful, and joyful life that we deserve.

OB-Gyne Dr. Leah Manio during the Power Over Cervical Cancer event
As a step to furthering the advocacy that embraces women across all demographics, the pioneering Power Wives for the campaign will be the spouses of seafarers who will undergo a program that includes sessions on personality development, image-building, personal resilience, financial management, and self-care.

As of this writing, around 400,000 Filipino seafarers are deployed overseas who render themselves and their families at greater risk for several diseases and infections due to their working conditions. While they strive for financial stability and a brighter future, GSK aims to educate them about the values of preventive healthcare.

make-up artist Mica TuaƱo demonstrating make-up application on a seafarer's wife
It is a fact that Filipino seafarers who work aboard international fleets greatly contribute to the Philippine economy. Despite comprising only 5% of the total Filipinos working abroad, seafarers contribute more than 20% of OFW remittances (USD5.6B out of USD24.3B), which clearly establishes that they play a major role in the country's finances and the shipping industry as a whole.

Did you know? One out of four seafarers onboard international vessels are Pinoys? That means they comprise 25% of the total global maritime professionals in the world! "The significance of the Philippine maritime industry transcends both the global and national arena.  Undeniably, 90 percent of world trade is still reliant on international shipping. This means that almost all the food we eat, clothes we wear, the things we buy, use, own, in one way or another, were shipped onboard vessels before they got to us,” stated Capt. Ronald SJ Enrile, Senior Vice-President, Maritime Management of Philippine Transmarine Corporation, the country’s biggest shipping-employment agency.

wives of seafarers' gift wrapping session during the Power Over Cervical Cancer event 
Thus, securing the OFW families’ future is important and the future should not only mean financial stability but also health and wellness among family members. This translates to the importance of  health checkups and vaccination.

One of the major problems for Filipino women is cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinas, with seven dying of the dreaded disease every single day. It is worrying that 2 in 3 Filipinas diagnosed with this condition may die within five years (or up to 2,832 women dying in a year). 

stages of cervical cancer
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In its early stage, cervical cancer may have no signs or symptoms. This condition occurs when abnormal cells develop and spread in the cervix, the entrance between the vagina and the uterus. HPV (human papillomavirus), a very common virus, can infect up to 80% of women at some point in their lives and it has been shown that 99.7% of cervical cancer patients are positive for HPV infection.

Although HPV is primarily transmitted via sexual intercourse, another recognized mode of transmission is skin-to-skin genital contact. This is why aside from regular consultations and pap smears, women are advised to be vaccinated against the cancer-causing HPV.

Jackielyn Cortez, Associate Product Manager, HPV Vaccine
Young girls aged 15 to 19 are the highest at risk for HPV infection. Thus, the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) on Immunization is emphasizing how important it is for this age group to be protected through HPV immunization before their first exposure to HPV (i.e. before sexual contact), as young as nine years old.

Older women are not exempted from the susceptibility because the risk of persistent infection with cancer-causing HPV (which is necessary for cervical cancer to develop) increases with age, and is highest when a woman is over 66 years old.  So vaccination remains to be recommended for older women who did not receive it at an earlier age. However, screening continues to be encouraged among older women as a matter of precaution.

with my friend Lou who also supports Cervical Cancer awareness
Know more about cervical cancer visiting the Pangarap Mo, Protektado page on YouTube containing various short films that teach how to protect oneself against vaccine-preventable diseases as it is an important step in achieving one’s dreams.

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