Fighting Cervical Cancer in Tanzania
Lack of gynecological health services link cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS
According to recent studies, a weakened immune system due to HIV significantly increases a woman's chance of developing cervical cancer. Since Tanzania has high HIV rates, a new program was started in November 2012 at Musoma Regional Hospital, which is in the Mara Region in north Tanzania. Now women who come to Musoma to be screened for HIV/AIDS also receive cervical cancer screening.
On a late afternoon Dec. 10, it was a hot day in Tanzania. The short, rainy season made the heat bearable. There were four women waiting to be screened for cervical cancer. Ten women already were screened, and the day wasn’t over.
Shamim Shabani Sarehe from Kyakato village in Musoma was one of those women. A 28-year-old married mother of three, she has had continuous bleeding. Even though a mass was removed from her uterus last year, the bleeding returned a month later. When she learned the hospital offered screenings, she decided to make the journey as she began to also suffer from breast pain.
RN Plaxeda Pande and Midwife Joachim Masunga performed the cervical cancer screening and breast exam to find that Shamim didn’t have any abnormal breast tissue and her cervix was normal. She was referred to the hospital gynecologist to address her bleeding. In one year, Shamim can return for her annual screening.
Post-screening, Shamim said that “received very [good] service and feels the program is very good and relevant. [The cervical cancer program] is very important because so many women have problems with their reproductive organs and they need these services to treat them.” Shamim said she believes services like these should be provided for all women who have similar problems.