Netherlands-based QIAGEN and the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in India have collaborated to establish the first large-scale cervical cancer screening programme for women in Kolkata.

Under the QIAGENcares Kolkata Project, QIAGEN will provide technology to screen women for cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV), while CNCI will conduct the screening to provide appropriate treatment as per the Indian National Guidelines for Cervical Screening.

The project also aims to raise awareness about HPV, cervical cancer and other health issues related to women.

Under its guidelines, women with cervical cancer or pre-cancer will be immediately treated at community-based mobile field clinics, under a process referred to as “screen and treat”.

Cervical cancer is a preventable cancer with a known primary cause, but claims nearly 300,000 lives every year, out of which 80% of the deaths occur in developing countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that more than 130,000 Indian women are diagnosed and more than 74,000 die from with cervical cancer every year.

The official launching of this programme is planned in the opening ceremony of 2009’s Asia-Oceania Research Organisation on Genital Infections and Neoplasia (AOGIN) conference in Kolkata on 25–26 April.

The first screening is expected to start in June and the initiative will be conducted over five years to reach about 50,000 women in and around villages in Kolkata.

By staff writer.