June 16, 2009

Cervical cancer: NCCPP urges Qiagen to extend Digene HPV test kit to Nigeria

By Sola Ogundipe
TOWARDS mitigating the rising incidence of cervical cancer in the country, the National Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme (NCCPP) is advocating for   incorporation and use of the new Digene HPV test introduced by Qiagen N.V., a Netherlands holding company and leading global provider of sample and assay technologies, into the national cervical cancer screening programme in Nigeria.

A statement by the  NCCPP, made available to Good Health Weekly, noted that from hospital records, cervical cancer kills one Nigerian woman every hour (8,000 annually) yet less than 1 per cent of affected women are aware of the existence of the silent killer and  less than 0.1 per cent have ever had cervical cancer screening in their lifetime.

Good Health Weekly reported exclusively recently Qiagen’s success with the digene test kit after an eight-year trial on the effectiveness of the novel human papillomavirus (HPV) scanning kit.
The kit is based  on a hybrid capture 2 DNA testing technology and it  is regarded as the “gold standard” in testing for high-risk types of HPV.

The NCCPP statement noted that Qiagen demonstrated through this mile stone clinical trial study conducted in the Maharashtra state of India that in low-resource settings, a single round of HPV testing significantly reduces the numbers of advanced cervical cancers and deaths, when compared with only the application of routine Pap (cytology) testing or visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA).

As an organisation clearly gaining grounds in cervical cancer control, the NCCPP which has been at the forefront of providing nationwide cervical screening has screened over 10,000 Nigerian women through coordinated, highly subsidised nationwide cervical screening via mobile units as well as through the NCCPP Lagos centre which provides round the clock cervical/breast cancer screening.

Commending the decision of the company to donate one million HPV tests, over the next five years (estimated at over US$30 million) as part of its broader global access programme to provide the highest quality cervical cancer screening technologies to women in developing countries, NCCPP notes: “Adding QIAGEN’s approved digene HPV Test (which is specified for use with cervical screening in women  above 30) will definitely cut the attendant fatalities in Nigeria annually from cervical cancer.

“The NCCPP hopes that Nigeria will be one of the first countries to benefit from the donation of the one million HPV test kits and look forward to incorporating this innovative test with cervical screening for Nigerian women.”