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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 15) – Australian researchers are working to reduce the high rate of cervical cancer among women in Vanuatu.

Cervical cancer is a major health problem in Vanuatu and other developing regions but a lack of funding prevents most women from having routine gynaecological tests.

Scientists from Queensland's Wesley Research Institute are studying a rapid, low-cost method of detecting cervical cancer in women from the island nation.

They say initial results are positive, which means there is every chance the technique can be used to save many lives in developing countries.

In addition to evaluating the technique, the project will also teach local nurses to conduct the screening and treatment process themselves, and develop training and educational materials for the local women and nurses.

The researchers will also work with Professor Ian Frazer, who was made Australian of the Year in 2006 after leading the team that developed the first cervical cancer vaccine

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