Minister launches 'See and Treat' (Botswana Daily News)

| September 13, 2015

Cervical cancer is the most common and leading cause of cancer related deaths among women, says health minister, Ms Dorcas Makgato.

Speaking at the launch of the ‘See and Treat’ cervical cancer national launch in Lobatse on Friday September 11, Ms Makgato said cervical cancer also presents 29 per cent of all newly developed cancers in women, adding that it was an important public health condition that negatively affects women’s health.

Ms Makgato also said cervical cancer predominantly affects socio- economically disadvantaged women.

She said globally, cervical cancer was the second most common cancer amongst women, and that more than 85 per cent of the global burden of the disease was found in developing countries. The minister said the absolute burden of the disease would continue to increase if effective prevention measures were not undertaken.

Offering opportunities to reduce the suffering associated with this preventable cancer is an ethical imperative that should go hand in hand with the remarkable economic progress the country is now achieving, she said.

With screening for cervical cancer having been implemented in the past 25 years, Ms Makgato said the screening has now been complemented with the ‘See and Treat’ method to increase access to preventive services.

“See and Treat implies that clients can be screened and simple abnormalities that are identified treated during the same visit, said the minister.

The minister noted that over 10 000 women have been screened since 2012, and that just over 3 000 have received appropriate treatment.

Despite treatment made, we still have a long way to go, she said.

Ms Makgato said as donor funding dwindles, it was time the country explored innovative solutions that would augment fixed facilities to reach more women. The minister thanked partners such as the United States government for their contribution in the comprehensive cancer control strategy.

For his part, the USA ambassador to Botswana, Mr Earl Miller said because of the link between cervical cancer and HIV, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, popularly known as PEPFAR, supports the Ministry of Health in preventing these dual epidemics among women.

Preventing HIV means preventing cervical cancer, he said. Mr Miller said the US government has always been a proud partner of the Ministry of Health supporting dual approaches to preventing cervical cancer through the ‘See and Treat Project and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV vaccine).

He said the success stories that have been made by Botswana through the assistance of the US government have not gone unnoticed as Botswana would be recognised on September 22 at an international event at the President George Bush’s Centre in Texas.

Mr Miller said the scale-up of cervical cancer prevention services in Botswana has been a success, adding that the US government was pleased to be a partner in the effort.

He pledged that the US government would continue through a new accomplished partner in cervical cancer to continue to provide ongoing support to the current ‘See and Treat programmes and to support the expansion of planned additional facilities throughout Botswana.

Giving the overview of the ‘See and Treat’ progrramme, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Ms Shennaz El- Halabi said the Ministry of Health has since 2005 gone on a public education campaign to educate the public about the importance of testing for cervical cancer. She said they have seen a remarkable number of women coming to test for the disease.

She said after realising that health facilities were overwhelmed and that clients could not get test results on time, the ministry came up with timely interventions.

Ms El-Halabi said the ‘See and Treat’ programme was one of the ministry’s interventions in ensuring that women were tested for cervical cancer and given proper treatment on time.

She said the ministry, through the programme, was looking forward to having positive results in the fight against cervical cancer. She noted that health facilities were now able to handle the large numbers coming for tests, and that they were able to address the treatment demand.

The ‘See and Treat’ programme has so far been implemented in five clinics across the country in Lobatse, Gaborone, Mahalapye, Maun, SelibePhikwe and Francistown.

The launch was held under the theme: The time for prevention is now, my health begins with me

Category: Governance

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