By FRANCINA CHOMBA
A Survivor of Cervical Cancer disease has called on women to shun tradition beliefs about their reproductive organs and undergo regular cervical cancer screening to help in early detection of the disease.
Karen Nakwala who was currently undergoing treatment said the common belief that it was a taboo for women to openly talk about issues involving their private parts was contributing to the escalating numbers of cervical cancer hence the need to change the sociatal norms.
She said cervical cancer was one of the treatable diseases if early detected and that men who are carriers of the Human Papillon Virus to join the fight against cervical cancer by encouraging their partners to undergo regular screening.
Ms Nakwala said this when she gave a testimony during official opening of the high level private sector engagement on cervical and breast cancer control in Zambia.
“When I recieved the news that I had cervical cancer my world froze, the only thing that come to my mind was death but I was counselled by doctors who told me that 90 per cent of cancer treatment is attatitude, so I started u going treatment and also decided to form a Facebook page called Teal sisters to help raise awareness, ” Ms Nakwala said.
She said according to the African set up, women are told not to openly talk about issues concerning private parts, a situation she said was leading to the rise of cervical cancer among diseases and had negative reparations.
A Zambian actress in the popular drama series Mpali known by her screen name amai guru, Wanga Zulu said she was devastated when she discovered that she had cervical cancer in 2014 as she thought her life had come to an end.
Ms Zulu said leaving with the disease was devastating as it never crossed her mind that she could be a carrier of such a disease.
“It was not an easy journey as I had my rollercoaster moments when I discovered that I had cervical cancer but I praise God that I went for screening and here I am living strong and healthy,” she said.
Ms Zulu urged women to undergo regular cervical cancer screening to improve chances of survival.
She said cervical cancer unlike other diseases was had to detect because one was unable to feel the symptoms until it reached an advanced stage.
And First Lady Esther Lungu said cancer survivors to be ambassadors to take a leading role in raising awareness because they would be talking from experience.
Ms Lungu said in a quest to fight cancer diseases, over 252,000 in and out of school young girls aged 14 had recieved the HPV vaccines with first dose representing a coverage of 76.3 per cent since the demonstration project started in 2018.
She said so far over 5000 women had been offered early brest cancer detection services and that to date close to 1 million women had screened atleast once in their life time.
Ms Lungu called for increased investment in the cancer control and prevention program that would create awareness and provision of critical surport to cancer patients.
“Based on the Global Cancer report for 2018, the most frequent cancers in Zambia are cervical cancer with 3000 new cases, breast cancer with 900 new cases and prostrate cancer with 1,200 new cases annually,” she said.
Ms Lungu said the national Cancer control strategic plan 2016 to 2021 seek to expand acess to breast and cervical cancer services to reduce mortality by 25 per cent in 2025.
And Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the Goverment had made strides in the provision of cancer treatment across the country.
Dr Chilufya said the Goverment would this year commence the construction of two setellite cancer diseases hospitals in the Southern and Copperbelt Provinces to decentralise services.