TUNAJALI joins fight against cervical cancer

As part of efforts to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in Tanzania, TUNAJALI Programme plans to reach 17,262 women through Cervical Cancer Prevention (CECAP) services in its five regions of operation by September 2015.

The new TUNAJALI initiative is supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Programme’s Maternal and Newborn Child Health Coordinator, Dr. Asnath Nnko, says CECAP services to be offered as part of the initiative include cervical cancer screening and diagnosis and treatment of precancerous lesions.

She says in order to boost access to CECAP services, TUNAJALI will educate communities about cervical cancer and inform them about the availability of the services. Dr Nnko adds that this will help to diagnose cases early and increase chances of successful treatment.

She says although life-saving CECAP services are free of charge, many women lack information about their availability.

Dr. Nnko says TUNAJALI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, will provide CECAP services in Usokami Health Centre and Migoli Health Centre (Iringa); Lugarawa Hospital and Ilembula Hospital (Njombe); Mazimbu Hospital and Mlimba Health Centre (Morogoro); Makole Health Centre and Kongwa District Hospital (Dodoma) and Singida Regional Hospital and Makiungu Hospital in Singida Region. “The programme plans to expand to 15 more sites in the near future,” she adds.

She says since HIV and AIDS increase the risk of precancerous cervical lesions and a more rapid progression to cancer among HIV-infected women, TUNAJALI, being an HIV and AIDS programme, will ensure the initiative gets the attention it deserves.

Tanzania is among countries with the highest cervical cancer burdens in the world. One-tenth of the estimated 72,000 new cases and 56,000 cervical cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in the year 2000 occurred in Tanzania.

In April – June quarter, 942 eligible women were screened for cervical cancer. Seven out of the screened were suspected to have cervical cancer and were referred for further screening. Other 96 were found to have early symptoms of cancer therefore they got treated while other 15 were referred due to large cervical lesions.