Doctors call for early cancer screening

HARARE - Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZDHR) has urged Zimbabweans not to shun public health facilities which are offering early detection of diseases such as cervical cancer. 

Rutendo Bonde,  ZDHR chairperson, said cervical cancer screening should not be left to the last minute because individuals have their reservations about public hospitals.

The perception that public health care does not produce a good outcome forces many people to seek help late. 

“If we look at cervical screening, people delay because they think, ‘why should I go and have visual inspection at a public health institution?

“Pressure from social status causes delays and yet those services are readily available,” Bonde said.

She said in terms of public health, people need to move out of the survival mode and become innovative, looking for those low cost, high impact interventions which can change health seeking behaviour.

She however highlighted that public health institutions were not putting their best foot forward and being aggressive to tell people about the services they offer.

“Maybe it’s a funding constraint because I have not seen health financing which has come up to the Abuja Declaration level which is 15 percent of the fiscus,” she said.

“We are not there yet and because of that gap people then get into survival mode and they stop being innovative.”

The ZDHR chairperson also emphasised that there was a need for continuous targeted messaging so that the information is constantly available to people.

According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, approximately 33 percent of women diagnosed with cancer in 2009 had cervical cancer which accounted for eight percent of cancer deaths.

At least 98 percent of cervical cancer cases in Zimbabwe are associated with the human papilloma virus which is sexually transmitted.

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