Women in Gutu can now access treatment services for early stage cervical cancer, following the launch of preventive loop electrosurgical excision procedure (Leep) services at Gutu rural hospital.
BY Phyllis Mbanje
This follows a donation by the Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) of a Leep machine to the hospital.
Women with early stage lesions of the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer, who were unable to access treatment due to resource constraints, are now set to benefit from receiving treatment closer to home. MSF has also trained a doctor at Gutu Rural Hospital to perform Leep procedures.
“As MSF, we believe that no woman should die of cervical cancer because it can be prevented. If women are screened early, they can be protected from developing cervical cancer,” MSF gynaecologist, Severine Caluwaerts.
Before the launch of Leep activities, women, who had pre-cancerous lesions that covered more than 75 % of the cervix or extended inside the mouth of the cervix and could not be treated with cryotherapy, were being referred to Newlands Clinic in Harare for treatment with Leep. MSF was paying and meeting expenses for patients to be treated with Leep in Harare.
“Treating patients, who needed Leep in Harare was not cost-effective or sustainable. Some patients were not able to travel to Harare to receive treatment and it was difficult to follow them up,” MSF medical doctor, Abraham Mapfumo, said.
Since 2015, MSF has been supporting the Health ministry to provide early detection through cervical cancer screening services at six clinics and hospitals in Gutu.
Gutu is the only rural district in the country that has more than one centre offering cervical cancer screening services.
MSF’s experience of supporting cervical cancer screening using a method called visual inspection using acetic acid and cervicography in a rural setting like Gutu has shown that the services are feasible and well-accepted, with some women even travelling from outside the district to receive services.
MSF hopes that the Gutu example can be replicated in other districts in Zimbabwe.