Bengaluru, 24th January, 2024: Plum, India’s leading insurtech platform offering group health insurance and business insurance solutions to over 3500+ corporations has flagged disconcerting facts on Indian working women’s awareness on cervical cancer and its vaccination. A whopping 88% of working women are not vaccinated against cervical cancer. Of these unvaccinated working women, 63% are oblivious to the existence of vaccines and screenings. With age-standardised incidence and mortality rates of 22 and 12.4 per 100,000 women per year, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India (source).
With January observed as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Plum surveyed 250+ working women aged between 21 and 47 from India’s metro cities and observed that the high cost ranging from ₹3,700 to ₹10, 000 per dose* of vaccination is a hurdle to cervical cancer prevention – 26% of unvaccinated working women cited cost as a significant barrier, while an unexpected 60% of those who underwent vaccination reported costs exceeding their expectations. Accessibility too has been a concern with 10% of the unvaccinated women who have the intention of getting vaccinated don’t know where to begin.
*It is crucial to note that the vaccination regimen for cervical cancer prevention requires two-three doses.
Dr. Nupur Gupta, Director-Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram and senior gynaecologist from Plum Telehealth highlighted the critical need for screening and early detection as a top priority, stating, “Prioritised screening and early detection can prevent and manage cervical cancer. Regular pap smears, especially the more sensitive Liquid-Based Cytology (LBC) testing, offer strong detection when paired with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) screening. Making certain lifestyle decisions is also essential for lowering hazards.”
In the conversation, Dr Gupta shared a few guidelines for preventing cervical cancer (perhaps the only cancer that can be prevented through screening and vaccination).
|• Routine Screenings: If you are sexually active or in your thirties, make sure to schedule routine (annual) HPV testing and Pap screenings.
• Vaccination: Even if you are in your thirties, you should think about getting vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination provides effective defence against the virus.
• Understand Your Risk Factors: Recognise the things that could put you at higher risk, such as early menarche and having multiple partners.
• Raise Awareness: Make cervical cancer screenings a priority by urging friends, family and coworkers. A key component of prevention is raising awareness and educating people.
Saurabh Arora, Co-founder at Plum, expressed, “At Plum, it has been our endeavour to positively impact the health and financial well-being of every human. With a workforce of 39 million women driving business growth, employers bear a crucial responsibility to champion the health of their employees. Acknowledging the significant challenges related to awareness, cost and accessibility, companies can proactively address these issues by organising screening camps and facilitating vaccination drives for cervical cancer awareness, detection and prevention.”
Plum has partnered with Proactive for Her, a women’s health tech company that offers in-clinic and virtual women’s menstrual, sexual and reproductive healthcare across all life stages through expert consultation, diagnostic support and cancer screening services to offer discounted consultation, diagnostics and screening camps to its member corporations.
Achitha Jacob, Founder & CEO, Proactive for Her said, “India has the highest rate of Cervical Cancer in Asia. Cervical Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of prevention and screening in the fight against the HPV virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer. We are committed to vaccinating tens of thousands of women against the HPV virus. It is important for insurtech companies to spotlight all areas of women’s health and we are thrilled to see Plum taking such steps.”
Plum has been at the forefront to drive a transformative cultural shift in corporate healthcare practices and as an insurtech player dedicated to making insurance more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly for all. Recently, Plum introduced super-top health insurance plans in group policy settings helping individuals to enhance their health insurance coverage and making it accessible for them with convenience and affordability.