KZN health targets cervical cancer

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Government is making further efforts to reduce the number of women who die due to cervical cancer in the province ever year.

The Phila Ma (which translates into be a healthy mother) campaign aims to educate women about cervical cancer and explain that it is preventable by vaccination and curable by early screening.

The campaign targets women of child bearing age as it is vital for them to be screened.

First Lady Thobeka Mabija-Zuma, who attended the launch on Tuesday, said health services need to be made friendlier to women, especially young women, so that they can openly discuss intimate matters with health professionals.

"I have dedicated myself and my skills to the pursuance of a noble goal to ensure that children do not grow up without a mother because they die at birth or early in their lives because of cervical cancer," said Ms Madiba-Zuma.

African Union Goodwill Ambassador: maternal, child and women's health, Dr Manto Tshabalala- Msimang said the campaign put the country and province at the forefront of better maternal, child and women's health and rights. 

MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who officially launched the campaign at the Amaoti Community Hall, said with the pandemic of HIV in the Sub-Saharan countries, new cases of cervical cancer have emerged and have extended to young women, as young as 30-years-old.

Dr Dhlomo said this campaign was close to his heart as his father's first wife died while giving birth. 

"We would like to say after few years, women in KwaZulu-Natal may die but cervical cancer is not going to be the cause of their death," he pointed out.

The department chose to launch the campaign in Amaoti due to the high poverty rate which has resulted in ill-health and early death in women, it said.

During the day, women from Amaoti and the surrounding communities were given free cervical cancer screenings. These services are to be rolled out throughout the province during the month of August as part of the Women's Month, said the department.

The campaign is linked to the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief's (PEPFAR) Prevention-of-Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV programme which identifies women to participate in cervical cancer screenings.