Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Only 13 women turned up for free cancer screening at Luweero Hospital between January and September this year, URN has learnt. Early this year, Luweero hospital introduced routine cancer screening services targeting women between 25-49 years.
This was meant to ensure that women found with genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection are enrolled on early treatment. Health experts acknowledge that cervical screening is the most effective approach for cervical cancer control.
Despite the free cervical screening exercise at Luweero Hospital, only a few women have embraced the services. Some of the women interviewed by URN expressed fear of cervical cancer screening saying it is a painful experience.
Mariam Najjuko, a resident of Kizito zone in Luweero town council says that she has attended two awareness campaigns for cervical cancer screening but she is yet to go for it.
She explained that she and other women are laid back because of the method used to screen for cervical cancer as well as their privacy.
Other women told URN on condition of anonymity that they have heard claims that cervical cancer screening is very painful.
Prossy Najjuka, a candidate for the Luweero district Woman Member of Parliament seat says apart from the fears, a large number of women in rural areas are not aware of the cervical cancer screening exercise.
But Innocent Nkonwa, the medical superintendent of Luweero Hospital says the allegations by women that the screening is painful and can cause infertility are false.
Nkonwa revealed that starting next month, they intend to work with Mildmay Uganda to create more awareness about the screening.
He also said that they have finalized plans to recruit more staff to address the staffing gap at the clinic and other wards at the hospital.
Free cancer screening services are also offered at Nyimbwa and Kalagala health center IVs. However, only a few women have embraced it. HPV is spread to women sexually by male careers that are never affected by the virus themselves.
Reports from the Uganda Cancer Institute indicate that many women aged below 45 are reported with advanced cervical cancer which is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
Quoting the Kampala Cancer Registry, Dr, Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of Uganda Cancer Institute early this year said Uganda still has one of the highest incident cancer rates in the world standing at 45 per every 100,000 women yet the global average is 15 per 100,000.