Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Women used to be confined to the domestic sphere doing household chores, taking care of the sick as well as farming to the extent that they would delay going for health check-ups or seeking treatment early.
Some women succumbed to curable diseases due to delays in seeking medical attention.
Due to the cancer awareness campaigns and screening services, the number of women accessing health services in most areas has improved.
Some of the screening services are decentralised making it easier for women to access medical services.
Breast and cervical cancers constitute the most common cancers among women in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Zimbabwe, cervical cancer accounts for more than a third of all cancers among women of African descent.
In Mashonaland East the number of women getting screened for cancer is improving with most of them now understanding the importance of getting tested and going for regular health check-ups.
In an interview at Nyamayaruka Business Centre where hundreds of women turned up for cancer screening yesterday, Mudzi District Medical Officer, Dr Sam Matapure said the response by women in Mudzi is overwhelming.
He said when the cancer screening programme started in the area in 2014 few people showed interest, but due to continuous awareness campaigns more women were now coming.
“When we started in 2014, 46 women were screened. In 2015, we had 694, 1 255 in 2017, 2 077 in 2018, 1 097 in 2019 and 2020 in January alone 45 came.
“Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in women. We encourage women to go for screening. We are screening and treating through cryotherapy.
“The numbers of men coming for prostate screening are still low. Most men do not go for screening because of the way they were brought up. Most men were groomed to be brave and endure pain. Some men have commitments and will not find time to go for medical check-ups,” he said.
Registered general nurse and midwife, Perpetual Matemera said it was important that people eat healthy foods and practice good hygienic standards to reduce cases of cancer.
She said in men, circumcision reduced chances of prostate cancer by 60 percent.
“We should take care of ourselves through cancer screening. For one to work in the field he or she should be fit.
“Cancer screening is done for free. People should not wait for their health to deteriorate.
“We should discourage our children from indulging in sex early. Let’s encourage them to emulate people who have done well in life,” she said.
Noting the burden of cervical cancer amongst HIV positive women, she encouraged screening of women who are on antiretroviral treatment every year.
Jesca Dzamba of Matizora Village said the awareness programmes are assisting many women to take care of themselves.
“It is good to seek medical attention early so that diseases can be controlled early than to wait until one has deteriorated,” she said.
Mrs Eustina Foya of Chijaka Village said she was not afraid to go for testing.
“I encourage other women to prioritise their health. The screening is being done for free. It is not wise to delay as this is expensive and one may not afford treatment costs,” she said.
Mr Michael Mukandara (75) of Karumba 2 Village said it was important that men seek health services early than to delay while one deteriorates.
“I encourage other men to go for screening than to wait to get sick,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, Mudzi West legislator and Deputy Minister for Energy and Power Development, Magna Mudyiwa said it was important that people go for cancer screening as it can be managed if detected early.
“Amai was touched by the plight of cancer which mostly affects women. Cancer also affects men. Amai encourages people to go for screening.
“It is good for people to know their status and seek medication early,” she said.
She paid tribute to the First Lady for her philanthropic work which has seen her visiting remote areas and assisting the vulnerable in different ways.
The First Lady, who is the Health Ambassador and Patron for Angel of Hope Foundation’s work on cancer has seen her traversing the country advising women on the need for screening and early treatment of the disease.
Zimbabwe has made significant progress in cervical cancer control and prevention with multi-pronged strategies to control the disease, which affects women of all ages countrywide.
In efforts to fight cervical cancer, the First Lady and the Ministry have partnered WHO, UNFPA, USAID, PSI, PSZ, while various other partners have come on board.