More women undergo cervical cancer screening in Coast Region            

THE number of women who visit health centres for cervical cancer screening in Coast Region has been increasing significantly in recent years following improvement in the provision of the services.

The services have been improved through collaborative efforts between the Regional, District Health Management teams (R/CHMTs) and Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS) under the funding from PEPFAR/ US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC ) AFYA Hatua project.

One of the initiatives undertaken includes increasing the number of screening centres from 40 to 56.

Dr Asnath Nnko- THPS Maternal and Paediatric Services Officer told reporters at Cervical Cancer Screening Unit, Tumbi Regional Referral Hospital in Kibaha Town on Wednesday that increasing awareness sessions, free screening services and expansion in screening services are some of the factors for the achievement.

She said the services are directed to all girls and women from all backgrounds in the region.

She revealed further that from January to March 2023, they have screened 4,100 women who are HIV positive for cervical cancer whereby 59 of them were diagnosed with early signs of the disease and treated, while other 27 were found with pre – cancerous lesions and were referred for further treatments.

Expounding, she said that, they used to screen about 2,400 to 2,700 in the previous years and that reaching to the current number of women is an indication that more and more women are becoming aware of the benefits of checking for their health status.

She said: “We are doing close follow ups to HIV positive women since it is very easy for them to get infected with Human Papilloma Virus through sexual contact which cause cervical cancer.”

She added that, apart from screening for cervical cancer, all women are also checked for breast cancer as well.

On the other hand, biopsies which are taken from women who are suspected to have cervical cancer are taken to Mloganzila for further investigations, and this has been a major breakthrough for extending the services.

“Since year 2022, women who are suspected to have cervical cancer in our region are no longer required to pay for biopsies testing. This has really encouraged more women to come forward and get screened,” she added.

Assistant Nursing Officer at Tumbi Hospital Ms Maria Zacharia said that, trainings provided by THPS to the health care workers had positive results in improving cervical cancer services in the region.

She added that through the CDC support, they have received essential medical equipment and supplies which are vital in their daily activities.

According to Innocent Kweka, Laboratory Technologist at Tumbi Hospital, improvements in Cervical Cancer medical services has enabled samples which are tested on monthly basis to increase from 15- 18 compared to 8-10 samples which were tested per month in the past years. In addition to that, results for the biopsies are now obtained within few days compared to before.

Cervical Cancer is the leading type of cancer which kills large number of women in the country. About 8,000 women in the country die from the disease each year.

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