USAID, BroadReach Healthcare give equipment to screen and treat a million women for cervical cancer

Jill Derderian and Cathy Moore
US Consul General, Jill Derderian (l) and USAID Deputy Director, Cathy Moore (r), and Nurses at Lower Umfolozi Hospital test the new equipment

Major Boost in KZN’s Battle Against Cervical Cancer

For Immediate Release

Friday, August 6, 2010

Uthungulu District; August 6, 2010: The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health (DoH) can screen and treat one million women for cervical cancer in the next two years, following USAID’s donation of more than R5 million of specialty medical and surgical equipment, commemorating Women’s day and month.

Thousands of South African women die from cervical cancer because testing and treatment gear is in short supply. U.S. Consul General, Jill Derderian, announced the USAID/US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) contribution to KZN Health MEC, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and 300 community people at Lower Umfolozi Hospital. Dr. Dhlomo said, “The fact is that cervical cancer is beatable.”

Derderian said her mother had twice survived cancer following early diagnosis. The machines, speculums and examination lights will enable testing for cervical cancer at nearly 300 hospitals in all 11 KZN districts.

This is in support of the province’s “Phila Ma” (“Be healthy, mother”) program that aims to accelerate the screening and treatment of cervical cancer and reduce the rate of cervical cancer mortality by 60% to 80%.

In South Africa, cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women. Research shows that HIV accelerates cervical cancer in women with weak immune systems. The KZN’s DoH strategy detailed major gaps in cervical screening and treatment, identifying the need for infrastructure equipment.

USAID partnered with BroadReach Healthcare to procure the cervical cancer equipment in South Africa so testing may commence immediately.

Four in ten women in KZN are over the age of 30, putting them at a higher risk of cervical cancer. Recognizing the high burden of cervical cancer patients, the province launched the “Phila Ma” program. The equipment includes: 10 colposcopy machines, 300 autoclave machines, 10, 000 disposable vaginal speculums and Halogen examination lights.

Dr. Dhlomo said, “Through partnerships with BroadReach Healthcare and USAID, we expect that many women and girls will be educated about cervical screening and have access to this service at their nearest clinic. Our call to the women of KwaZulu-Natal is simple: by having a pap smear today, you will be fighting a silent killer which affects thousands of women every year.”

BroadReach Healthcare chairman Dr Ernest Darkoh said, “Cervical cancer kills more South African women than any other cancer each year, accounting for 34% of all cancer deaths in women – yet it can be prevented and treated if detected early enough. It is estimated that cervical cancer affects 30 out of every 100, 000 South African women each year, compared to a global average of 16 women per 100, 000,” said Darkoh. 

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