The prevalence of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe is worryingly high – says Health Minister; 2,000 women lose the battle every year |

By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

Health and Child Care Minister Douglas Mombeshora has reiterated the ongoing fight against cervical cancer among women and girls, saying the prevalence of this type of cancer was worryingly high and responsible for 2,000 deaths per year.

He said the disease is a critical health problem that has taken a toll on the lives of many Zimbabwean women, mothers, daughters and sisters.

“Cervical cancer remains a worrying public health challenge in our country as it has far-reaching consequences for the health and well-being of our citizens, especially our women,” Mombeshora told local journalists and a visiting team from the World Health Organization. (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.

“The prevalence of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe is worryingly high, with an estimated 3,000 new cases per year, of which an estimated 2,000 women lose the battle against this disease,” he added.

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

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The Health Minister said Zimbabwe is doing its utmost to combat cervical cancer and has deployed resources to respond to the growing health challenge.

“Today I want to share a message of determination and hope for Zimbabwe as we proactively take the necessary steps to protect our women and overcome this disease in our country.

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

He underlined that Zimbabwe’s focus on the preventable disease is bold and multifaceted, ensuring equitable access to primary prevention, screening and early detection, as well as treatment and care.

Since the launch in 2018 of the national vaccination program against human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), remarkable progress has been made in achieving commendable coverage rates, which translates into the fact that more than two million girls have been stung. .

HPV vaccines can prevent some of the health effects caused by the virus.

“That’s why, guided by our National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan, we are making crucial progress. More than 200 healthcare facilities in Zimbabwe now offer VIAC (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Camera) screenings, and 60 locations offer HPV testing. These expanded services give women the tools for early detection,” said the Health Minister.

VIAC is an effective way to prevent cervical cancer in women between 30 and 50 years old. It involves examining the opening of the uterus, or cervix, for changes that could lead to cancer.

Mombeshora, however, lamented that these services have not been able to reach some remote parts of the country.

In an effort to close the gap, the government has redoubled efforts to expand access to screening services through targeted outreaches.

Equipping hospitals is also at the top of the agenda, he noted.

“We are stepping up the fight by investing in more radiotherapy equipment. This gives women access to the most effective treatments wherever they live in Zimbabwe.”

Health education programs have also been rolled out to raise awareness about the deadly disease.

“Education has been given to girls to recognize signs of cervical cancer. With one goal, let’s take on the challenge of creating a future where no woman dies from cervical cancer. We can and will win this battle,” said Mombeshora.

The WHO delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, later visited Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, where it appreciated an inadequately equipped laboratory with the ability to process samples and produce results locally, thereby reducing turnaround time.

The WHO entourage, accompanied by the Minister of Health, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) of Mhangura, and the Provincial Minister of Mashonaland West, Marian Chombo, also visited the Umboe Clinic in Mhangura, located about 40 km from Chinhoyi, to conduct a ​​to gain appreciation for a remote basic health facility. .

The tour heard that it took up to six months for samples to be processed in Harare and results returned, a development that prevented some women from receiving treatment in time to save lives.

Prebo Barango, WHO transversal leading expert on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and special initiatives, said the overlap between HIV and cervical cancer continues to be defined, and efforts to eliminate both diseases have been stepped up.

He emphasized the need for cooperation between governments and non-profit organizations to bridge resource gaps such as low staffing levels, unavailability of consumables and equipment used in cancer screening and testing.