Cervical Cancer / Cervix
An image depicting 2 health professionals searching for cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer: New Data Suggests 40% Prevalence In West Africa


Recent data that has been collected by mPharma, an indigenous health start-up, suggests that the prevalence of cervical cancer in West Africa is approximately 40 percent as opposed to the 21 per cent that was recorded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Cervical cancer is known to be the second biggest killer of women in Africa and WHO reports that it is the leading cause of cancer mortality amongst women living in developing countries. According to the current estimates, every year 2,797 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,699 die from it. Cervical cancer is ranked as the 2nd most frequent cancer amongst women in Ghana and the 2nd most frequent cancer amongst women who are between the ages of 15 and 44 years.

Although WHO reports that the infection prevalence of cervical cancer in West Africa is 21.3 per cent, recent samples that were collected by mPharma between Ghana and Nigeria suggests that the rate could be higher than reported by WHO. Out of the 3,000 samples collected through its 10,000 women campaign, which seeks to test 10,000 women in Ghana and Nigeria for cervical cancer, about 40 per cent of the samples tested positive.

For instance, in Nzulezu, a town situated in the Western Region of Ghana, out of the 100 samples that had been collected, around 40 of them were positive and the situation was same in most places. Sophia Baah, the Chief Operating Officer of Mpharma, diclosed this at a media briefing in Accra. She stated that through the campaign, mPharma wants to test 6,000 women in Ghana and 4,000 women in Nigeria for free.

“At the heart of everything we are doing is the data we are capturing and with the 10,000 women campaign, out of the 3,000 samples collected so far, what we have seen is that the positivity rate in our samples is around 40 per cent. But the research out there says West Africa is 21 per cent, which means there may be a lot of data out there, which has not been captured.”

She also stated that the company was also looking to create more awareness on the disease through the use of the campaign, saying, “It is important to create awareness around the second biggest killer of women in Africa. One of the important things with the data that we are capturing is for us to be able to start predicting certain trends and certain situations before they happen. With the data, we can tell that this particular community is more prevalent and we can start drilling down into the whys.”

She said the Ghanaian health tech start-up company now services over two million patients annually and operates more than 310 pharmacies in nine African countries. The company plans to expand its community pharmacies (Muttis) in eight markets in Africa to be the first point of care for patients.

“The start-up’s Mutti pharmacies are essentially mini-hospitals offering a wide-range of services, including medical consultation, diagnostic and telehealth services, while increasing access and affordability to quality medication.”