A week long Cervical Cancer awareness and mass screening campaign organised by the Blantyre District Health Office and Saint Egidio saw 1,859 women getting screened, representing 53% of the campaign’s target.
The campaign targeted women from Blantyre rural who have had difficulties in trying to access health facilities for cervical cancer screening.
It got underway from 31st July 2018 to 3rd August 2018 where women in the age group of 15-49 were screened and those with suspected cancer were referred for further management with the financial support of Agenzia Italiana Per La Cooperazione Allo Sviluppo.
According to the organization’s Cervical Cancer coordinator Dr. Sangare Hawa Mamary, 2.5% were VIA positive, with 1% having a suspected cancer.
“The mass cervical cancer awareness and mass screening campaign screened a total number of 1859 women (53% of target). Among the screened women, 47 (2.5%) were VIA positive and 15 (1%) suspected cancer.
“Women with suspected cancer were referred for further management with one of the main sponsors of Dream Saint’ Egidio program,” she explained.
Despite registering half of the targeted women, Dr. Hawa Mamary said there was a low turnout due to misconceptions and late sensitization.
“Some people believe that once a woman is screened for Cervical Cancer, that woman can no longer conceive a child. There is a need to clarify on these misconceptions in the communities and at all points of service delivery because Cervical Cancer screening does not affect woman fertility as it aims at preventing women from developing the virus,” she explained.
She further revealed how the Human Papilloma Virus causes Cervical Cancer.
“It can take 10 to 20 years for someone with HPV infection to reach cancer stage. Our screening method is Visual Inspection of the cervix using acetic acid (VIA).
“Women with VIA negative are reviewed after 1 year for HIV negative women, with VIA positive women are reviewed after 3 years. Women with VIA positive are treated successful and they don’t reach cancer stage if they follow routine screening,” she continued.
She then urged women to go for Cervical Cancer screening at health facilities to stop the virus from claiming their lives.
During the last days of the campaign, one of the selected sites namely Chabvala registered more than 300 women who came for screening.
The just ended campaign targeted rural women from Chabvala, Mdeka, Lirangwe, Lundu, Chileka, Madziabango, Dziwe and DREAM Mandala.
The campaign was made possible with assistance from Total Malawi, Ministry of Health, MSF France, SOS and the Italian Cooperation Agency.
Malawi has the highest incidence of Cervical Cancer where 3684 women develop the disease.
DREAM is a global health care organization which aims to lessen non-communicable and communicable diseases