THE Cervical Cancer Initiative of Zimbabwe (CCIZ) has accused government of not showing enough commitment towards eradicating cervical cancer which has become one of the leading killer diseases among women.
REPORT BY WONAI MASVINGISE
Cervical cancer accounts for 32% of all cancers among women.
Addressing guests at a dialogue meeting on HIV and Aids and women’s reproductive health in Harare last week, CCIZ member Tsitsi Magure said government should put more effort in educating women about the advantages of early diagnosis of the disease.
“There is insufficient commitment from government on the issue of cervical cancer. Cancer is not prioritised in Zimbabwe and Africa and this is partly due to the overwhelming burden governments have with communicable diseases,” said Magure, a gynaecologist.
“The issue of cervical cancer is not given the priority it deserves maybe due to the fact that most of these people in government who deal with health issues are men and they do not give this matter the importance it deserves. If it had been renal cancer, I am sure they would have acted.”
HIV and Aids activist Tendai Kateketa said women living with HIV were at a higher risk of getting cervical cancer and government needed to integrate awareness programmes with existing HIV programmes.
“As you know, cervical cancer is now taking a toll particularly on women living with HIV and it is an emerging problem which has been ignored over many years. It has been shadowed by programmes that have to do with HIV and Aids, but because of these emerging issues like cervical cancer, it is important that there be an integration of issues to do with sexual reproductive health,” said Kateketa.
Cervical cancer is a disease that occurs at the mouth of the womb, and is caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is mainly sexually transmitted.
Kateketa said it was important that peer educators especially in workplaces were equipped with information on cervical cancer and its prevention.
“We are also focusing on the female condom because research has shown that the female condom, besides being a short-term family planning method, can also prevent women from acquiring the HPV that causes cervical cancer,” Kateketa said.
The meeting was hosted by the Swedish Workplace HIV/Aids Programme and the Women’s Health, HIV and Aids Southern Africa.