Fighting Cervical Cancer in Tanzania

By Angasyege Kibana, Agatha Haule, Cathrien Alons, Mercy Nyanda | May 14, 2013

Clients at a health care facility in Tanzania learn more about cervical cancer before receiving a screening.

EGPAF

People living with HIV are particularly vulnerable to cervical cancer – in the United States, cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer among women living with HIV. And in Tanzania, the problem is even larger—cervical cancer is not just the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, but is the most common cancer nationwide. In fact, Tanzania has one of the highest cervical cancer burdens in East Africa, with an incidence rate of 50.9 cases per 100,000 women and a mortality rate of 37.5 per 100,000 women. To fight the disease, EGPAF/Tanzania is supporting 24 sites in regions across the country – including Kilimanjaro, Lindi, Shinyanga, and Tabora– to provide cervical cancer screening and treatment services.

In Tanzania, EGPAF is supporting cervical cancer prevention (CECAP) services under the USAID -funded LIFE program. The program focuses on integrating HIV and PMTCT services with reproductive health services, including CECAP. This approach is very much encouraged by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), donors, and EGPAF, with the intention of maximizing the usage of available resources.

The MOHSW has endorsed visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA) techniques and treatment with cryotherapy in a single-visit approach (SVA) as the preferred service delivery model for rolling out practical and effective prevention services for cervical cancer in Tanzania. Linking these services with reproductive health care at the facility, district, and regional levels is key to minimizing the number of patients lost to follow-up and helping more women get tested and treated. With funding from USAID, EGPAF has begun offering cervical cancer screening services in Tabora, Kilimanjaro, Lindi and Shinyanga Regions.

To share information about the program with the community, EGPAF offers health classes at outpatient clinics and health care facilities to talk to women about cervical cancer screening; in addition, EGPAFis using posters designed by MOHSW in strategic locations where women can easily see and get information on cervical cancer and how to get screened and treated.

To ensure that cervical cancer prevention is a top priority, EGPAF is an active member in a cervical cancer technical working group. In addition, EGPAF/Tanzania is working with the MOHSW and other partners like Jhpiego to gain the technical knowledge needed to make an impact.

By supporting CECAP services, EGPAF has increased the number of trained service providers from 20 in 2010 to 86 in March 2013. As Tanzania continues its battle to eliminate HIV and end cervical cancer, EGPAF will be working to ensure that all women have access to the services that can save their lives.

Angasyege Kibana is Program Coordinator for Reproductive and Child Health for the Foundation, based in Tanzania. Agatha Haule is Program Coordinator for PMTCT efforts for the Foundation, based in Tanzania. Cathrien Alons is the Tanzania Country Officer for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C. Mercy Nyanda is Program Coordinator for Communications and Outreach for the Foundation, based in Tanzania.