The Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care is conducting free cervical cancer screening in polyclinics and hospitals throughout the country, an official has said.
ZNFPC sister in-charge Yvone Mapwashike said this in an interview with New Ziana at the Health Professions Authority of Zimbabwe offices where the screening was being conducted.
“The goal for the cervical cancer screening is to find pre-cancerous cell changes early when treatment can be offered to prevent cancer from developing,” she said, adding they were also offering free HIV testing and family planning services.
Cervical cancer occurs at the mouth of the womb and it is caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is usually sexually transmitted.
The majority of women (80 percent) will acquire the virus in their lifetime but will not have any symptoms or signs. However, it can take between 10 to 20 years before one develops cancer or even less with HIV.
Mapwashike said it is very important for women to know the risk factors of cervical cancer which include early age of first sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, partner who has multiple sexual partners, HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and smoking, among others.
“Cervical cancer is a growth of cells which starts in the cervix and the symptoms include menstrual bleeding that lasts longer; bloody vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding after intercourse therefore screening should be linked with treatment and management,” she said.
She said cervical cancer screening is an ongoing exercise which started three years ago and it is being conducted at polyclinics and hospitals around the country.
The theme for this year is “Learn, Prevent and Screen” and its emphasis is on making sure no woman is left behind from being educated about cervical cancer and the ways of reducing the disease.
Mapwashike said delaying the age of first sexual intercourse, having one faithful sexual partner, correct and consistent use of condoms and vaccination, are some of the preventive measures. – New Ziana