Sitting in a cold, windowless room while a stranger in a mask sticks a needle in me is not my ideal day. I hate going to doctor’s appointments, let alone getting a shot. I have always been prone to seeing stars and fainting. However, in today’s culture more than ever, we know the importance of vaccines and the crucial role they play in protecting ourselves as well as our community around us.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month! It is quite scary to know that cervical cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide affecting over half a million women’s lives. It is estimated that over 14,000 women in America will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. Do not freak out just yet, cervical Cancer is extremely preventable through the HPV vaccine, practising safe habits, and having routine pap-tests.
However, not everyone has the luxury and privilege of being able to prevent this illness. Almost 85% of cervical cancer cases occur in developing nations. In these areas of the world, health care is not as accessible as it is in America, leading to discovering a majority of the cervical health discrepancies in later stages. The lack of screening leads to cervical cancer being a leading cause of death of women in developing countries.
The terrible reality is that there is no difference in women’s bodies in developing nations than American women, yet American women are far less likely to receive a terminal diagnosis. There needs to be more done to protect women’s health across the globe. Luckily there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Last year, vaccine manufacturers committed to supplying enough vaccines to immunize over 84 million girls in developing countries! There is still a long way to go, especially though adding more screening resources, but even baby steps drive us forward.
Your health is so important, regardless of where you live in the world. It is essential to be aware of your cervical health and make sure your friends are aware of theirs too. Make sure to book routine check-ins with your doctor. It is also noteworthy to recognize how privileged we are to live in a part of the world where we know this diagnosis can be prevented. It is so crucial that we raise awareness for health factors impacting women worldwide as we are all interconnected in our shared experience and provide louder voices for those who do not have a platform. In the words of Nellie McClung, “Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known.”