The deployment of a female nurse at Mikolongwe Health Centre to handle cervical cancer screening services in the area of Traditional Authority Chimaliro in Thyolo District has drastically increased an uptake of the service from an average of 10 recepients of care per month in 2021 to 80 per month in 2022; reported the Nurse and Midwifery Technician (NMT) Enock Sabola.

The NMT said the facility has successfully increased the uptake of cancer screening service following support from the Malawi Network of AIDS Services Organizations (MANASO) through its evidence based advocacy project called Community Led Monitoring (CLM) and the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) which has provided the nurse.

He recalled that the facility utilized the morning health talk as a medium in spreading the good news that women who were shunning male nurse could now come comfortably to be screened by a fellow woman. 

Commenting on the development Enelesi Namakhoma from Chioko village, T/A Chimaliro in the district observed that the deployment of a female nurse has been warmly welcom looking at the growing number of women seeking the service at the facility. “It is only when one is very ill that she does not mind being screened by a man. That is why a cervical cancer screening handled by a male nurse culturally and traditionally faces some resistance,” said a recipient of care who came to the clinic for the service.

Rose, an adolescent girl recipient of care who opted to be identified by her first name only told the JONEHA reporter that she decided to go for the cervical cancer screening after learning from the morning health education talk that the disease also affects girls and that people are free to choose a female or male service provider. She said as a young girl she comfortably asked for a female nurse to do the screening whose results turned out negative and added that she would make sure that she does not miss the next checkup schedule.

The 2022-2026 National Cervical Cancer Strategic Plan says globally, Malawi has the highest incidence and mortality rates of cervical and that it is leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the country.  In 2020 cervical cancer accounted for 37% of of all new cancer cases among females. Globocan 2020 estimated that the age-standardized incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer were 67.9 and 51.5 per 100,000 population respectively. That there were 4, 145 new cases and 2,905 deaths from cervical cancer in 2020. This is an increase from the 2012 statistics of 3,684 new cases and 2,314 deaths from the disease.

The CLM project with funding that has been provided to a coalition of Civil Society Organizations called the Civil Society Advocacy Forum on HIV and Related Conditions (CSAF) is funded by the PEPFAR program in Malawi channeled through the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).