Source: Tanzania Daily News
THE government on Wednesday launched the cervical cancer community awareness and screening initiative with a call to women to have a tendency of checking their status on the deadly disease frequently. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) report suggests that cervical cancer kills more women in Southern and Eastern Africa than any other type of cancer for a number of factors including the region's high HIV burden.

Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Neema Rusibamayila, said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that the initiative would be carried out by five Non- Governmental Organizations under the auspices of the ministry.

"There are 130 cervical cancer screening sites in 17 different regions of the country and the ministry's goal is for all health facilities to have cervical cancer capabilities," said Dr Rusibamayila while launching the programme.

The programme is implemented by Medical Women's Association of Tanzania (MEWATA), Wanawake na Maendeleo Foundation (WAMA), Tanzania Youth Alliance (TAYOA) and the Mbeya HIV/AIDS Network.

The two-year collaborative programme supported by financial commitments and technical on-the-ground support Bristoal-Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF) Secure the Future, runs on a framework created by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. Ms Rusibamayila noted that cervical cancer screening and treatment services are offered free of charge and she urged all women in the risk age group of 30-50 years to seek the service early.

In her remarks, Dr Serafina Mkuwa, the Chairperson of MEWATA, said about 25 per cent of Tanzanian women develop cervical cancer in their lifetime and almost half of all diagnosed patients die due to late diagnosis.

"The campaign will address this problem by increasing awareness and access to screening and treatment services. Community awareness, mass screening and support for referrals are critical to save lives of our women," she said.

BMSF President, John Damonti said the primary goal of the partnership is to reduce deaths from the growing women's cancers in developing countries, saying the programme would encourage women to have early screening.

"We know cervical cancer is easily preventable and treatable yet access to cervical cancer screening services remained minimal and lack of awareness among women and communities is contributing to this burden," he said.

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