Advocacy Statement regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations and Gynaecological Cancers

The SA MRC/UCT Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) prides itself on its collaborative approach to researching, documenting, and treating women with gynaecological cancers. The Centre comprises clinicians, public health specialists, pathologists and scientists from the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital. It also has collaborators at Frere Hospital, East London and Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, Mthatha.

South Africa and health care workers have been challenged by the global COVID-19 pandemic. We salute all healthcare workers, as well as public health specialists and scientists who have guided us as to the appropriate management of patients, measures to prevent COVID-19 infections and through the development of safe and effective vaccines.

The pandemic has forced the diversion of resources from many other important health care activities such as providing surgical care for non- COVID related illnesses, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension among many others, cancer care treatment and preventative health care such as immunisation, HIV testing, reproductive health (e.g. contraception/cervical cancer screening) and women’s health, which includes a documented increase in Gender Based Violence. It is estimated that the contraction of these non-COVID related services is around 30%. The national GDP has shrunk by at least 7% with a consequent large increase in unemployment, which will add to the societal health care burden due an increase in poverty, food insecurity and lack of social cohesion.

We support vaccinations to prevent severe forms of COVID. The evidence has clearly shown that vaccinated people have less chance of severe disease, hospital admissions and admission to an intensive care unit.

The more people are vaccinated, the less hospital admissions there will be and a greater return to elective surgery and a surgical recovery plan, as well as services in all other aspects of health care. We envision a return to a world where we can provide optimum cancer care to all our women diagnosed with gynaecological cancers, with no surgical delays. Most cancer services in our institution are very delayed and for women diagnosed with surgically curable cancers the waiting list is over 6 months. There is an urgent need to resuscitate non-COVID related activities to provide essential care to the patients we serve, but this can only happen if the pandemic declines and the majority of the population is vaccinated

We also advocate vaccines to our cancer patients who are receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatment. We urge you to discuss the timing of your vaccination with your oncologist/clinician.

The SA MRC/UCT GCRC encourages vaccination against COVID-19 as a means of restoring health care to all the whole population.


South African Medical Research Centre and UCT Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre (SA MRC/UCT GCRC)

Prof Lynette Denny (Clinical Director) and members of the SAMRC/UCT GCRC, a comprehensive cancer unit comprising a broad spectrum of Clinicians, Public Health Physicians, Pathologist and Scientist