Female health in spotlight amid calls to raise public awareness
Women's diseases were brought into sharp focus in Shanghai on Wednesday as top medical experts, local media and health care companies highlighted the importance of raising public awareness about female health on International Women's Day.
Professor Qiao Youlin of the School of Population Medicine and Public Health, under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and Peking Union Medical College, noted that HPV (human papillomavirus) poses a public health challenge for the whole population.
"We hope more people will take preventive measures after gaining awareness of the danger and harm from HPV and cervical cancer, and better protect themselves and their family health," he noted.
A series of health information charity activities under a new program "A Healthier Life for Our World" will be held in local neighbourhoods and business communities targeting the general public under a joint partnership between local news portal thepaper.cn and MSD China, the domestic arm of the American multinational pharmaceutical company.
China accounts for 18.2 percent of total cervical cancer cases and 17.3 percent of total cancer deaths due to its large population, official figures show.
Promoting HPV vaccination among age-appropriate women has been written into Shanghai's amended law on protection of women's rights and interests, which took effect in January this year.
"There has been great progress in the public awareness of HPV but many misunderstandings remain, and our joint sense of urgency has brought our partners together to further enhance awareness of existing preventive measures," commented Anna Van Acker, senior vice president of MSD and president of MSD in China.
Meanwhile, the Beijing Love Book Cancer Foundation initiated a breast cancer early screening education program on Wednesday with the aim of reducing the fatality rate of the disease.
Shi Anli, chairperson of the China Rehabilitation Society of Chinese Anti-Cancer Association and executive chairperson of the Beijing Love Book Cancer Foundation, pointed out that through early screening, diagnosis and treatment, women can take back the initiative.
Shi, herself a cancer survivor, said she fully understands the importance of public education as some patients may miss the best chance of treatment because they do not understand the importance of disease prevention and treatment.
Lack of time for physical checks and shortage of attention were the common feedback from many respondents in a recent survey.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females in China, with more than 415,000 cases diagnosed in 2020.
There were nearly 120,000 breast cancer deaths in China in 2020, representing approximately 18 percent of global breast cancer deaths.