Poor funding drives cervical cancer cases: Caz

HARARE - Poor funding by government is fuelling high incidences of cervical cancer cases and fatalities, a Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (Caz) official has said.

Caz programmes general manager Junior Mavu said government should prioritise the preventable and curable disease that is diagnosed in at least 5 000 people yearly.

“There is a general lack of awareness by government on cervical cancer.

“When we ask for funding we are told ‘if it was Aids we would have helped’.

“Can you imagine a national cancer organisation in a country with so much cancer cases just has two offices, one in Harare and another in Bulawayo?

“Actually in Bulawayo we just have someone answering phone calls only,” said Mavu.

Cervical cancer is the leading cancer in the country.

According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry cervical cancer accounted for 15 percent of all cancer deaths in 2010.

Of 100 cancer cases in women, 32 of them have cervical cancer.

Mavu said despite the general lack of consciousness, poverty has taken a toll on the increase of cancer deaths in the country.

“You find the statistics of women who go to public hospitals like Parirenyatwa for screening have gone down ever since a fee was introduced.

“People do not have the money to pay,” said Mavu.

Cancer expert Anna Nyakabau said most of the deaths are preventable if patients present themselves at an opportune time.

“The problem is that it takes a long time of about 10 to 20 years before any notable symptoms. The onus is on us not to let the womb that gives birth to be a source of pain and a cause of death,” said Nyakabau.

Every two minutes in the world, according to the expert, there is a woman dying of cervical cancer.

Reports show that by race, cervical cancer leads among black Zimbabwean women, while skin cancers dominate among non-black women.

Jazz artist Dudu Manhenga, who is also a cancer advocate, said women should not procrastinate on visiting cancer screening centres.

“It is so easy to keep saying I am going to do it tomorrow, but I encourage young women to get screened,” said the youthful artist.

Traditional sexual practices like inserting herbs into the vagina to aid birth or sex is a trigger to cervical cancer.

Similar to HIV transmission, any woman who is sexually active is vulnerable to cervical cancer.

May is the cervical cancer awareness month and the theme for this year’s commemoration is “Early Detection Saves Lives”.

Wilkins, Edith Opperman in Mbare, Highfield and Warren Park are some clinics that currently over free cervical screening. - Wendy Muperi

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