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Zambia Working to Prevent Cervical Cancer

 

Hello again, and welcome to As It Is from VOA LearningEnglish! I’m George Grow.

The World Health Organization says vaccinations havebeen shown to be more effective in reducing deathsthan any modern development, other than clean water. On the show today, we look at efforts in Africa toprotect people against the sometimes deadly diseasemeningitis.

But first, Milagros Ardin tells us about a governmentvaccination program in Zambia. Its goal is to protectschool girls against human papillomavirus, betterknown as HPV. The virus is known to cause cervicalcancer, and can spread through sexual contact.

Zambian Government Working to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Zambia has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. Ninety ofevery 100,000 Zambian women get the preventable disease. The Zambiangovernment recently launched a program to vaccinate school girls againstHPV.

The government hopes to vaccinate school girls between the ages of 9 and 11against HPV. The program was launched in May at several schools. One ofthem is the Kalingalinga Primary School in Lusaka. About 100 students therereceived the HPV vaccine.

Euphrasia Mweshi Mutale is a teacher. She was involved in efforts to informthe community about what was expected to be a sensitive subject. She sayspeople involved in the program met with parents and teachers to tell them whyit is good to vaccinate the girls. She notes there have been no immediatereported side effects from the vaccine, like high body temperature or skindiscoloration.

Mulindi Mwanahamuntu is a director of the Cervical Cancer PreventionProgram in Zambia. He says health officials wanted to vaccinate 25,000 girlsas part of the program. But he says there was some resistance fromchurches and other groups.

“The very fact that it is given to pre-sexual years it would indicate to others that we are permitting children therefore to go out and have sex.”

Zambian and international health officials are working to break the resistanceby educating communities in different ways. Doctor Pelum-Hazeley is withthe United Nations. She stars in a local radio program called Celebrating Life. Her program aims to educate listeners on medical issues so they can makethe right decisions for their children.

“We just have to continue educating the people because if someone has had a complication, and of course there are reasons why there are complications, it does not necessarily mean the same thing is going to happen here.”

The World Health Organization rates Zambia third on its list of highest deathrates from cervical cancer. The country also has the highest cervical cancerrate in Africa.

I’m Milagros Ardin.

You are listening to As It Is, from VOA Learning English. I’m George Grow inWashington.

The Lancet medical journal recently published a study with good news in thefight against meningitis. The study found that a new vaccine being used inChad reduced the number of meningitis cases by 94 percent. ChristopherCruise has the story.

New Meningitis Vaccine a Success in Chad

Researchers have described the new vaccine as the first meningitis vaccinedeveloped specially for Africa. They say it “dramatically reduced” the numberof cases in Chad and stopped the disease from spreading.

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MenAfriVac

The World Health Organization says meningitis affectsnearly 500 million people every year in African countriessouth of the Sahara Desert. The disease can bedeadly, often killing people who were treated for it.

James Stuart is a professor at the London School ofHygiene and Tropical Medicine. He helped to write areport on the new vaccine, known as MenAfriVac. Ittargets the type-A form of the disease.

Dr. Stuart and other researchers looked at the effects of MenAfriVac vaccineon 1.8 million people across three areas in Chad. All those receiving thevaccine were under the age of 29. The study took place during the 2012meningitis epidemic, when the disease infected many people.

Dr. Stuart says the number of meningitis cases dropped in the part of thecountry that was vaccinated. He says MenAfriVac completely prevented typeA meningitis in all of the vaccinated areas. But the disease continuedspreading in other areas.

“Although it wasn’t a trial, it suggested that the vaccine was having a verypositive effect on protecting people against meningitis.”

The disease can spread quickly, passing from person to person throughbacteria that live in the throat. The World Health Organization says more thanone million cases of meningitis have been reported in Africa since 1988. Thehighest incidence of the disease is reported in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Stuart says no other meningitis vaccines have proven to be as effective asMenAfriVac.

“The new vaccine seems to stop people carrying the germ and stop it beingtherefore transmitted, whereas the old vaccine did not have an effect oncarriage, so it didn’t stop the germ being transmitted between people.”

He says that the vaccine will sell for less than 50 cents per person in sub-Saharan Africa. He also says it can be included as part of normal preventativevaccinations for children.

Researchers continue to study the long-term effects of the drug. But Dr.Stuart says there have not been any signs of harmful side effects inindividuals who were treated.

I’m Christopher Cruise.

That’s our show for today. I’m George Grow. Thanks for listening. Do have aquestion or a comment about our show? Or maybe you have an idea for afuture show. We would love to hear from you. Send an email tolearningenglish@voanews.com. Or visit our website atlearningenglish.voanews.com and click on “Contact Us.” We are also onFacebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, iTunes and Twitter at VOA Learning English.


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