Why are these health workers collecting used menstrual pads?Last updated on Sep 11, 2017, 12:25 am
India has a quarter of the world's cervical cancer patients. The European Journal of Cancer Prevention attempted to understand why this disease was prevalent.
They asked Maharashtra's health workers to collect used menstrual pads for this research.
It was observed that 90% women used homemade cloths during menstruation.
So, what did the research reveal? How can this disease be prevented? Read on to know.
All you want to know about cervical cancer
Cervical cancer arises in the cells lining the lower part of the womb called the cervix.
This cancer is caused due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), mainly through sexual contact.
A pap smear test is used to diagnose the presence of the virus.
As per Spain's Institut Català d'Oncologia (ICO), about 122,000 cases of cervical cancer are reported in India annually.
How was the research conducted?
Pads were collected from 500 menstruating women aged between 30 and 50, in rural Maharashtra.
They stored their first day's menstrual cloth in a ziplock bag and gave it to the health workers during the two-year research period.
However, obtaining these pads was a tough task because menstruation is considered taboo in India.
The socio-economic situation, bathroom facilities etc. of the women were also documented.
What was revealed through the research?
The research revealed that 24 women had cervical cancer.
It was also noticed that there was lack of awareness about genital hygiene and the risks of reusing homemade cloths during menstruation.
There is also a lack of proper toilet facilities. The 2011 Census indicates that 41% households do not have bathrooms. This prevents women from washing their genitals, increasing the risk of cervical cancer.
Why do women not go for cervical cancer check up?
Ignorance is one reason why women don't get themselves checked. Cervical cancer symptoms, such as excessive bleeding, pain during sex, etc, are considered normal problems that can be treated by home medication. So, going to the doctor is considered a waste of money.
Also, women feel shy about going for check ups, and due to the uneasiness involved, they tend to fear the test.
What steps has the government taken to improve the situation?
To address this issue of cervical cancer, since November 2016, the government has made it compulsory for females above 30 years to get checked for cervical cancer.
Further, NDA's mission of making India defecation-free by 2019 through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will help prevent this disease.
Simple steps like awareness about proper hygiene and provision of toilet facilities could avert cervical cancer in India.