Jun 26, 2012

Cervical Cancer Remains Under Diagnosed in Uganda

AUTHOR:Irin NewsSOURCE:Irin News

Cervical cancer is one of the neglected killers of women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, these women do not access to screening for myriad reasons, e.g., unable to get a health center (cost prohibitive), lack of personnel to perform a Pap smear and competent medical technologist to examine the smears, etc. In Uganda, this cancer is insidious in that many women believe that inter-menstrual bleeding is normal and only till signs and symptoms evolve where the woman experiences severe pelvic pain and excessive bleeding does she seek care.  It is also the most common cancer found in women. The case study mentioned in the IRIN article highlights the challenges that these women face. In addition, this particular woman at age 42 was delivering her 7th child (lack of family planning) and states that her symptoms were attributed to ‘witchcraft’ and was treated by a traditional herbalist. Life for Mothers (LfM) completed a pilot study in rural Uganda and found that over 90% of women of reproductive age (WRA) do not receive Pap tests. The lack of testing was even greater for WRA less than 21. LfM emphasizes the need for a holistic strategy to strengthen health systems and reduce maternal deaths as well increase family planning and diagnose cervical abnormalities through early testing. A cheap and relatively simple solution is instituting VIA--visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid or vinegar. Droplets are applied to the cervix and if any area turns white (suspicious) it can be biopsied. The need for family planning cannot be overemphasized along with greater condom usage. In Uganda, over 33% of women were found to be infected with human papilloma virus (HPV). LfM will incorporate VIA so that WRA may be screened early for possible cervical abnormalities. Part of LfM’s holistic strategy is to increase contraception counseling and condom usage by informing WRA and their households of the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including HIV. To read the entire article click here: http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95727/UGANDA-Cervical-cancer-silent-killer

Did you know?

In Africa and South Asia, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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