By Hazel Marimbiza in BULAWAYO
THE government says it has increased its efforts to combat cervical cancer by launching screening programmes for HIV-positive women.
This comes after research by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicates that in Zimbabwe, cervical cancer is now the most common cancer among women, particularly those living with HIV.
The Health ministry programmes manager for non-communicable diseases, Venus Mushininga, said cervical cancer screenings targeted women living with HIV will promote women’s health requirements in the country.
“We had screenings for the general public at most health facilities, but now we have introduced screening programmes targeted at women living with HIV.
“Since cervical cancer is caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) infection we have actually moved towards implementing the global cervical cancer elimination strategy where we are having HPV screening as well as part of this trial,” she said.
Mushininga added; “We also recently introduced artificial intelligence, where we are doing the screenings using phones which can detect pre-cancer cervical lesions.
“Once the pre-cancer cervical lesions are detected, we can be able to remove them so that they do not develop into cervical cancer later on in life, because with cervical cancer, it can take up to 10 years before the symptoms start showing.”
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Between 2009 and 2018, cancer cases in Zimbabwe almost doubled, according to the national cancer registry, due to poor access to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, which were cited as the main causes. – Daily News