A regional women’s health awareness campaign has been launched on the heels of a 2024 survey that reveals that gaps surrounding cervical cancer screening persist in the Asia Pacific. 

The 2024 Asia Pacific National Women’s Health Survey by Roche, a Swiss multinational holding healthcare company, found that the barriers to women’s health awareness and cervical screening are as follows: 

  • a lack of time 
  • fear over the perceived pain from the screenings 
  • little to no knowledge of women’s health tests and screenings 
  • the perception that female diseases are undervalued in healthcare systems. 

Early screenings for breast or cervical cancers are the “first and most important step to save lives,” according to Ingrid Magnata, country program manager of non-government organization Jhpiego Philippines, and one of the partners of Cervical Cancer Elimination Movement (CCEM). 

“This new survey reinforces the urgent need to reduce barriers and intensify efforts to ensure women have the right information and feel supported when it comes to their health,” Ms. Magnata said in a May 7 press statement.  

“Improving access to information on where and how to get tested for diseases that impact women are a critical step to empower women when it comes to their health,” she said. 

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Filipino women.  

About 7,897 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,052 die from the disease annually, according to a 2023 fact sheet by the HPV Information Centre.

The country has one of the lowest cervical cancer screening rates in the world, with about 1% out of 54 million women undergoing cervical cancer screening, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies found in 2023.

The campaign, themed #MakeTheMostImportantDate, launched on May 5 in the Philippines, in partnership with CCEM and Women Workers for Health Empowerment Network (WHEN).

Roche Diagnostics has also partnered with laboratories like Hi-Precision Diagnostics, New World Diagnostics, and Singapore Diagnostics to provide Filipinas access to screening.

Other activities will likewise run throughout the month of May in observance of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. 

“The Philippine National Women’s Checkup Month is not just a campaign,” Marco Antonio Valencia Sanchez, Roche Diagnostics Philippines’s country manager, said in the same press statement. 

“It’s a movement to promote awareness, education, testing and support for Filipinas, celebrating the resilience and strength of women and acknowledging the need for them to put their health first, even though they have others to look after or support,” he said. 

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