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The fight for the screening and cure of cervical cancer continues with the first ladies in Africa. On July 25, 2012, a conference was held in Lusaka, Zambia to address issues of cervical cancer that have been challenging to women. The first ladies of six African countries took on the responsibility to help overcome this problem. Dr. Kaseba Sata, the first lady of Zambia, committed herself to work hard to see that women are informed about cervical cancer care, screening, and treatment. She said if it could be detected early, it would speed up the process of healing.
However, there are still a number of challenges to face before reaching this goal. One of the challenges is dispelling the myth that a person should not get screenings when they are seemingly healthy, as this may cause someone to get the sickness for which they are checking.
Understanding why women should get regular cervical cancer screenings is very important. During the beginning of HIV/AIDS outbreaks, most people never wanted to test for the diseases due to the stigma that is associated with them. According to Ronda from N’gombe Township, the matter of screening for cervical cancer may be just as difficult as that of AIDS, meaning that more sensitization may be required to reach the masses.
The first ladies pledged to provide resources to the people and to help with treatment for those found in the danger zone. However, the challenges are many, as most developing countries are faced with issues, such as sub-par technology to screen and treat cervical cancer and a lack of skilled workers. Other problems include the mobilization of resources due to bad roads to the remote parts of their countries that have bad health care. The few hospitals that can carry out such operations may not have the right equipment or enough skilled workers.
At the moment, sensitization programs are not yet in existence. This means that a well-planned program must be built from scratch. Dr. Kaseba has promised full support and will work with her partners to see that this disease is reduced in Zambia and Africa as a whole. Nevertheless, the sensitization program has not yet begun full swing in Zambia. During the conference, Dr. Kaseba urged women to make use of existing services and said she will do her best to advocate for the resources to eliminate cervical cancer.
However, the cancer hospital in Lusaka and other district hospitals that are fully functioning have a long wait for someone in need of service. This is another possible reason why women may be reluctant to receive treatment. There is a call on men to work hand in hand in sensitizing everyone to understand the need of screening before the problem is big; they are also being urged to be more involved, as this is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and they can choose to protect their partners.
Calls for more information on the disease and for both parties to take precaution and prevention measures is being considered among women. Men should be sensitized to stop living a careless life style and concentrate on their families. In fact, men should help protect women from the diseases and to advance a motherly well-being. Africa requires men and women to work together in reducing the spread of cervical cancer.
Image Courtesy of Embassy of Equatorial Guinea