Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN) held a community dialogue on the 12 of July 2017 on access to information at WASN’s offices in Eastlea Harare. The objectives of this community dialogue were to ensure that women and girls have access to information on Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIAC) services and to assess the levels of information dissemination offered at clinics and hospitals. The attendance was made up of twenty- five women and girls who participated in the dialogue. WASN was able to engage with the health personnel from Wilkins Hospital to educate women and girls on VIAC services and relevant information on access to services in relation to Cervical Cancer. Below are the proceedings of the meeting and what transpired.
Sister Muzabani in her presentation gave the reason for Zimbabwe to choose VIAC as a better screening method for cancer of the cervix in women and girls:-
- Zero subjectivity
- Immediately available results
- Management in one visit
- Brainstormed locally through UZ research
- Affordable/ acceptable/ accredited/ accessible/ achievable
- Bridges the cervical cancer gap
- Women mortality decreases
- Elimination of cervical cancer
CLINICS THAT OFFER VIAC
Sister Muzarabani explained to the women and girls that only City council clinics offer VIAC screening for free and government hospitals and private hospital screening one pays a certain fee to access VIAC screening. Below are the City Council Clinics:-
- Edith Opperman
- Glen Norah
- Warren Park
The above clinics offer VIAC screening for free.
Other Hospitals (Private and public)
- Harare Central Hospital (HCH)
- Cancer Association in Zimbabwe(CAZ)
- Population Services International (PSI)- New Start
The women and girls shared their fears and motivational stories with each other from their experience when they went for screening. Below are the stories from some of the women and girls.
- “I went and got screened two times now left with one more time.”
- “I went and got screened at Spillhaus in 2012 and they said I had suspicious cells so was referred to Parirenyatwa Hospital to Dr Mhlanga. The doctor performed a Biospy for $75.00. I was instructed to come for review after two weeks and the results showed that I did not have cancer.”
- “I was afraid of getting screened but being a health worker I would urge others until I got empowered to get screened after a patient got treated and she was cancer free.”
- “I went for screening and suspicious cells were discovered so I was prescribed anti-biotic for a week. I had to go for a review after 2 weeks so the review indicated that the cervix was clear and the suspicious cells were gone.”
The meeting showed that information on cervical cancer and VIAC services is available but there is need to scale up information dissemination and ensure wide coverage to include everyone like people living with disabilities, the deaf and the blind. The other issue that was critical is the issue of catching them young to ensure that the curriculum covers Cervical Cancer like other diseases such as HIV.
Other organisations need to compliment government efforts to disseminate information and ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of VIAC services to women and girls in their diversities.