Lesotho: Training Nurses in Cervical Cancer Prevention
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Lesotho, and the leading cause of cancer death among women in the country—particularly for women living with HIV, who are four times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women who are HIV-negative. In response to the country’s high prevalence rates, the Lesotho Ministry of Health (MOH), with support from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), unveiled its first-ever cervical cancer treatment facility in Senkatana in January 2013.
EGPAF is training nurses and health workers on the basics of cervical cancer treatment and prevention. An intensive four- day seminar was held Feb. 10-14, 2014 to equip nurses with a knowledge and understanding of cervical cancer treatment and prevention, focusing on screening methods and the diagnosis and treatment options available for pre-cancer lesions. The nurses are expected to implement this new knowledge as soon as they return to their district health centers.
The MOH’s cervical cancer Unit Manager Lebohang Matselane Motsie (pictured above, left) said symptoms of cervical cancer progress faster if the client is HIV-positive and encouraged every woman to know her status and have regular cervical cancer screenings. The training also introduced a new form of cancer screening called Visual Inspection with Acetic AIDS (VIA).
“With VIA we use common white vinegar and the results are instant as compared to the pap-smear where one had to wait for a while for these results. If there are signs of pre-cancers lesions, we treat the client and if there’s a need, we refer them to the hospital.”
Motsie said she hopes that this new method of screening will enable health workers to detect the early signs of cancer and turn the tide against the spread of the disease.
Mapalesa Lemeke is EGPAF's country communications and advocacy officer based in Lesotho.