ZIM CONFRONTING CERVICAL CANCER MONSTER HEAD ON

Talent Gore

ZIMBABWE is confronting the cervical cancer challenge head on and, even though about 2 000 women are lost annually, the sprited fight is raising hope for the future.

Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, said cervical cancer remains a serious public health challenge in the country as it has far-reaching implications for the health and well-being of citizens, particularly women and girls.

“Over the past decade, Zimbabwe has been steadfast in its commitment to cervical cancer elimination and, today, we reaffirm our dedication to this cause and set our sights on the ambitious goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030,” said Dr Mombeshora.

“Since the inception of the National HPV vaccination programme in 2018, remarkable strides have been made in achieving commendable coverage rates, which translate into over 2 million girls vaccinated to date.

“Although we experienced setbacks from the Covid-19 pandemic, which slowed down our progress, efforts have been made over the last two years to reach and vaccinate girls who were missed since 2019, and efforts are underway to develop an HPV Vaccination Revitalisation action plan which will ensure that no eligible girl is left behind.

“And that’s why, guided by our National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan, we’re making critical strides.

“Over 200 healthcare facilities across Zimbabwe now offer VIAC (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Camera) screenings, and 60 locations provide HPV tests.”

Dr Mombeshora added that an estimated 3 000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

“The prevalence of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe is worryingly high, with an estimated 3 000 new cases diagnosed each year, out of which an estimated 2 000 women lose their battle to this disease,” he said.

“This means that more than 70 percent of people diagnosed with cervical cancer do not survive.

“In 2022, the World Health Organisation reported that cervical cancer was the leading cause of mortality among women in the African region and Zimbabwe is ranked 4th globally, and in the region, for its high burden of the disease.

“Cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable disease. 

“Every life lost to cervical cancer is a loss that could have been prevented through timely screening, vaccination and access to quality healthcare.”

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