Incidences of cervical cancer in Tanzania currently stand at 40.6 per every 100,000 women and the situation is further complicated by high prevalence of HIV in the country.
The Arusha District Commissioner, Mr John Mongella, stated here that cervical cancer infections are numbered at 60 in every 100,000 women in Africa, according to the World Health Organization’s figures.
He was speaking during the inauguration of a campaign to conduct free breast and cervical cancer screening for women of child bearing ages (15-50) in Arusha Region, an exercise which is being coordinated by the Arusha-based East, Central and Southern Africa’s Health Community.
Mr Mongella explained that about 40,000 people are detected with different kind of cancers every year and 30,000 of these die for lack of proper treatment or late detection of the disease. He warned that the WHO projection estimates that by 2020 there will be 16 million new cases of cancers world-wide and 70 per cent of them are to occur in developing countries.
The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr Magessa Mulongo, pointed out that there are a number of cancers that can be treated once the victims get early medical attention. He praised the ECSA-Health Community for introducing free screening for local women here.
Mr Mulongo observed during the campaign that lack of awareness, late detection and scarcity of facilities in Tanzania are the main causes of prevailing high death rates, as most patients go to hospitals at the last stage of the disease.
The RC’s speech was read on his behalf by the Regional Medical Officer, Dr Frida Mokiti, who also warned the people of Arusha against some of their lifestyles, especially their food and drink intakes that have been found to be major causes of various diseases, including cancer.
“Over processed and or factory made foods are harmful to health and may lead to cancers but some modern lifestyles, including irresponsible sexual indulgences, early marriages or numerous partners can also cause cervical cancers. The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community which operates from Njiro in Arusha is currently conducting a week-long free screening for breast and cervical cancer to all women of child bearing age, an exercise which runs in sync with awareness training on such diseases.
The Director General for the Arusha-based ECSA Health Community, Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, stated that the exercise will be conducted here every year, in line with the breast and cervical cancer awareness campaigns that are usually observed worldwide every tenth month of the year.
“The annual screenings are going to be part of our responsibilities to help local communities maintain good health,” said Dr Kibaru Mbae, adding that she hopes that many other organizations, institutions and even individuals will be joining them to offer these services in future.
“As you know, October is globally regarded as special month for cancer awareness globally and we at ECSA intend to observe this through conducting free cancer screening for all women of Arusha, who will be interested to find out about their health status,” said Dr Kibaru-Mbae.
By MARC NKWAME, Tanzania Daily News