MORE women contracted cervical cancer in 2009 than in 2008 despite the introduction of the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in June 2008, according to figures released Thursday by the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital.
Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
The total number of recorded cases of cervical cancer, which kills 50 percent of those diagnosed with it, rose slightly from 1,642 in 2008 to 1,700 in 2009, according to the figures.
Eav Sokha, secretary general of the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital, said Thursday that many Cambodian women remained unaware of the HPV vaccine, adding that reproductive health issues are largely ignored by many rural families.
“Even though we got the HPV vaccine in 2008, the number of HPV patients increased because distribution of the vaccine is limited and it has just been introduced,” he said.
Eav Sokha said that cervical cancer can often be treated effectively if it is caught early, but that Cambodia has only two machines capable of performing Pap smears, a procedure that detects cervical cancer.
Im Sithe, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said the government had initiated several information campaigns designed to raise awareness of reproductive health issues generally and the HPV vaccine in particular.
“We have informed women in many communities about personal hygiene and its relation to reproductive health,” she said.