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Women’s Health in Focus: Role of CSR in Preventing and Treating Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a significant public health concern worldwide, particularly in developing countries like India. It affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus, and is primarily caused by persistent infection with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus. Cervical cancer has recently made headlines due to a controversial publicity stunt orchestrated by Poonam Pandey, an Indian model, who fabricated her death, citing cervical cancer as the cause, purportedly to raise awareness about the disease.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells in the cervix undergo genetic mutations, leading to uncontrolled growth and the formation of a tumor. This cancer often progresses slowly over many years, starting as precancerous lesions known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or dysplasia. If left untreated, these abnormal cells can gradually develop into invasive cancer.

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

Prevention is key in the fight against cervical cancer. Several measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing this disease:
1. HPV Vaccination: Vaccination against HPV can effectively prevent infection with the most common high-risk types of the virus. WHO recommends HPV vaccination for girls aged 9-14 years, ideally before they become sexually active.
2. Regular Screening: Pap smear tests or HPV DNA tests can detect precancerous changes in the cervix early, allowing for prompt treatment before cancer develops. Regular screening, starting from the age of 21 or within three years of initiating sexual activity, is crucial for early detection.
3. Safe Sexual Practices: Practicing safe sex, including the consistent use of condoms, can reduce the risk of HPV transmission and lower the chances of developing cervical cancer.
4. Smoking Cessation: Smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer and can also worsen the effects of HPV infection. Quitting smoking can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing this disease.
5. Health Education: Promoting awareness about cervical cancer, its risk factors, and preventive measures through educational campaigns can empower women to take proactive steps towards their health.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Preventing Cervical Cancer in India

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays a vital role in addressing public health challenges like cervical cancer in India.

Cancer Care Program by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)

Reliance Industries Limited through Reliance Foundation runs a Cancer Care Program as part of its CSR initiatives. The program aims to provide comprehensive cancer care services, including cervical cancer screening and treatment, to underprivileged communities in rural and urban areas. RIL collaborates with healthcare institutions and non-profit organizations to deliver quality healthcare services and support cancer patients throughout their treatment journey.

Awareness Initiatives by L&T

To prevent cancer, L&T champions proactive healthcare by advocating preventive education and early diagnosis, particularly focusing on cervical and breast cancer. Through dedicated cancer detection camps, L&T extends its commitment to empowering communities with knowledge and resources essential for timely intervention and effective management of these prevalent yet preventable diseases. By fostering awareness and facilitating accessible screening, L&T endeavours to mitigate the impact of cervical and breast cancer, safeguarding the well-being of individuals and fostering a culture of proactive health consciousness.