The Chinese embassy in Sierra Leone has announced the arrival of a delegation of three medical doctors from the Hunan Provincial Maternal and Child Health Hospital in China, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The delegation entered the country through Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation, aiming to provide technical support and training to strengthen the management of cervical cancer.

This initiative is part of the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund project, a joint effort initiated by the Government of China and UNFPA in 2020. The project’s primary focus is to reduce preventable maternal deaths by improving reproductive healthcare for women and girls while also enhancing the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer.

In explaining the fatalities of cervical cancer they said, “Cervical cancer is a major cause of mortality and the second most frequent cancer among women in Sierra Leone, with an estimated 400 women dying of the disease annually. Through the South-South cooperation project, cervical cancer screening and treatment services have been established for the first time at nine public health facilities. As a result, more than 4,100 women have been screened for cervical cancer, and thousands of women and girls have been reached with information to raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health including cervical cancer.”

Dr. Austin Demby, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, expressed gratitude to the Government of China and the visiting medical team for their support to Sierra Leone. He highlighted the comprehensive national strategy developed to eliminate cancer, with the crucial assistance of the South-South cooperation project and UNFPA. The strategy prioritizes scaling up screening and treatment while also emphasizing vaccination for girls to make cervical cancer a thing of the past.

Following the three-week visit by the medical team from China, twelve Sierra Leonean health care providers will travel to Hunan province for additional advanced training that will enable them to continue to strengthen national capacities to manage cervical cancer in Sierra Leone.

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Wang Qing, expressed delight that through the South-South cooperation partnership, China has helped to strengthen capacities to manage cervical cancer and improve the health of women and girls. “China will continue to support Sierra Leone’s efforts to improve public health, including by reaching vulnerable women who are at risk of cervical cancer and other disease,” Ambassador Wang assured.

UNFPA’s Representative to Sierra Leone, Nadia Rasheed, highlighted that the South-South partnership initiative is addressing one of the most preventable forms of cancer, stating that “cervical cancer is a devastating disease that is largely preventable if it is detected early. The support provided through this project is helping to raise awareness among women and build capacities in the health sector to end avoidable suffering and loss of life,” Ms. Rasheed said.