Tendai Bhebe, Sunday News Reporter
MORE than 4 000 women have undergone cervical cancer screening at the United Bulawayo Hospitals from February to August as the country steps up the exercise following a project in cancer awareness that is being spearheaded by First Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa.
The First Lady in February underwent cervical cancer screening at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) as part of a campaign to fight the disease and donated a cancer screening facility to the hospital. In an interview, UBH chief executive officer Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said since the First Lady’s cancer campaign launch about 4 000 have come for cancer screening and there has been a positive change. Cervical cancer is among the highest killer diseases among women in the country and reports show that it kills four women daily.
“Our target is to screen 5 400 clients per year and so far from the beginning of February up to August 4 566 women were screened showing an improvement that women are responding to the campaign awareness and we are happy that we have beat our target before the year ends,” she said.
She said the hospital was providing the service for free to encourage more women to come for screening.
According to the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) and Related Cancers in Zimbabwe report (ICO/WHO 2013), all women who are 15 years and above are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Risk factors include early age of sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, HIV infection, Sexually Transmitted Infections and smoking.
Estimates indicate that every year 2 270 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1 451 die from the disease.
Mrs Ndlovu said the lack of knowledge and access to screening treatment services and cultural practices has been a major contributor to the high mortality rate especially in rural areas as women are losing their lives due to the disease.
“We lack lecture rooms for patients where we can be teaching them about cancer and infrastructure challenges like ablution facilities, an ablution a place for washing or a cleaning of oneself, for personal hygiene,” said Mrs Ndlovu.