A multitude of changes have occurred in our daily lives a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One unfortunate consequence that is currently taking place is the fact that women’s health screenings and appointments have been reduced dramatically.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, most family caregivers are women (53-68%). Men do assist, although statistics show that female caregivers devote an increased amount of time to hands-on care while men tend to provide support with financial and other resources. The added restrictions brought on by COVID-19 have led to increased stress, fatigue, and depression – all having negative effects on natural immunity. In the absence of preventive health interventions that include cancer screenings, these challenges experienced by caregivers are expected to have long-lasting effects on health.
Now, less women are being seen and/or tested for various conditions, including Cervical cancer. According to a recent report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a variety of causes for postponing health appointments and tests include the closure of cancer screening sites and temporary suspension of screening services (Cervical and Breast cancer screening among others). Compounding the issue are government-issued mandates for self-isolation and the fear of contracting COVID-19. Both have likely deterred women from seeking health care services in the past two years.
Becoming increasingly alarming, the pandemic has affected cancer screening dramatically. As of April 2020, screening tests for Cervical cancer reportedly plummeted by 84%. Another recent report states that nearly 60,000 Cervical cancer tests were postponed in Canada. Furthermore, a U.S. report indicates that “over the last 12 months—millions of screening events have been missed.” People are reluctant to seek healthcare during the pandemic, and postponing screenings, tests, and ongoing appointments has unfortunately resulted in detecting advanced cancers. The recommendation is to continue seeking vital healthcare services as a means of prevention rather than reaction.
Women’s health software tracking apps are on the rise, validating the notion that Information Technology (IT) improves telehealth access. However, this only applies to areas of the world that have access to electricity and appropriate medical resources. Telecommunications research reveals that 96% of the world’s offline population (2.9 billion people) currently live in developing nations.
Cytology tests are a default screening method in developed countries that have significantly reduced cervical cancer instances. However, cytology involves skilled technicians and laboratory analysis that is not readily available in resource-deficient areas of the world.
This glaring disparity of adequate preventive health resources currently unavailable to developing nations is the focus of the global pact to create “a world without Cervical cancer” by or before the year 2050. Cervical cancer ranks as the fourth-highest mortality rate among women – and it’s preventable. However, this will only change when effective Cervical cancer screenings are readily available in these developing countries.
Particularly in India, one of the most impacted nations from Cervical cancer, the cerVIA™ visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) test has already proven its unique ability. cerVIA™ surpassed traditional cytology screening results in clinical trials and acts as an immediate validation for all other types of screening methods.
With cerVIA™ as an impactful medical solution available to developing countries, practitioners and patients are afforded precious time with instant diagnosis at the time of the procedure.