Despite the highly publicized campaign promoting cervical cancer screening in the country, health centers in Jinja lack the required tools and skills to carry out the screening exercise.
Cervical screening uses a test called cytology which most people know as the ‘smear test’. Cytology involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix with a small brush.
These cells are sent to a laboratory to be tested for abnormalities. By detecting and treating abnormal cells, screening can help prevent cervical cancer from developing.
Cervical cancer usually occurs amongst women above 30 years of age. Investigations carried out by our reporter at selected health centers in Jinja shows that they are not equipped to carry out cervical cancer screening.
Milly Akullo, a nursing assistant at Masese Port Health Center II says she has only heard about cervical screening in the media but she has not had the chance to receive any form of training. Julius Byansi, a clinician at Bugembe health centre IV says despite the fact that many people come to the health center demanding for cervical cancer screening they have not received any testing kits.
Byansi says at least 10 women come to Bugembe health center IV each months demanding for cervical cancer screening. 33-year old Mary Nakalanzi, a mother of two is a resident of Mpumudde village in Mpumudde / Kimaka division Jinja district. Nakalanzi says she has never tested for cervical cancer.
Robinah Mwangale, the Jinja district health educator says women in the district are missing out on cervical cancer screening because of lack of skills and testing kits. She says it is recommended that young women to undergo the cancer screening exercise before they become sexually active.
Currently 7.32 million women of reproductive age from 15 years of age and above are at the risk of developing cervical cancer in Uganda. In April 2013, ministry of health carried out massive cervical cancer vaccination in 12 districts of Uganda, leaving millions of women across the country.
Dr Prosy Mugenyi, the Programme Manager of the National Expanded programme on Immunization says 15000 girls were screened in the pilot project. Cancer of the cervix is the second commonest type of cancer in women after breast cancer in Uganda.
According to the WHO, 3577 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Uganda each year and about 2,464 die from the disease annually.