HEALTH ministry permanent secretary, Gerald Gwinji yesterday blamed various materials used by women to dry their private parts for the rapid spread of cervical cancer.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
“Various materials that women use as dryers, or putting herbs, which might have chemicals we do not know can cause some cancers,” he told the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Gender.
“Drying of the vagina itself creates an abnormal environment prone to infection, and we believe it leads to some of these cancers.”
Gwinji said some of the preventive measures his ministry had started rolling out visual inspection with acetic acid (VIAC) screening centres to central, provincial and district hospitals to curb the spread of cervical cancer and vaccinate against Hepatitis B and HPV, mass treatment for Bilharzia and male circumcission.
Gwinji said women, whose wombs have been removed, also need to be checked for cervical cancer, as they were at risk of infection.
Director for epidomology in the Ministry of Health, Portia Mananganzira said cervical cancer is a big problem constituting a third of all cancers suffered in Zimbabwe.
“In 2015 alone, of the 6 090 cancer cases recorded in Zimbabwe, a total of 2 294 were cervical cancer, compared to 942 breast cancer cases. We need human papilloma vaccination for girls from nine to 13 years to prevent cervical cancer because treatment is very expensive, and what is cheaper is prevention,” she said.
Director of pathological services in the ministry, Maxwell Hove said diagnosis of cancer was expensive, adding there are only two specialist hubs for cancer diagnosis at Parirenyatwa Hospital servicing people from Manicaland, Mashonaland East, West and Central, and Harare, and the second one at Mpilo Hospital to cater for people from Bulawayo, Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
“Pathologists are difficult to attract to the system. In Harare there are only three, and in Bulawayo we have two. We have three trainees, and one is going to be in the final year this year,” he said.
In 2011 the government invested $11 million in equipping Parirenyatwa and Mpilo hospitals with cancer equipment. In the 2016 budget, $200 000 was set aside for cancer awareness.