Cervical Cancer: Prevention and Control Policy launched
Cervical cancer has also been identified as a national priority in South Africa as well as other Sub-Saharan African countries. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in South Africa, but has the highest mortality of any cancer in women in South Africa. Although this is a preventable disease, due to limited access to prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, cervical cancer is often fatal. According to the National Cancer Registry, there were 5 701 new cases in 2013. CANSA is therefore delighted at the release of this revised policy which takes into account some of the advances in cervical screening and treatment.
Upon launching this policy, Dr Motsoaledi stated that in order to mitigate the impact of cervical cancer on health and socio economic development, the country needs to implement a comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and management programme. This entails implementation of three interdependent strategies, namely:
(i) Reducing oncogenic HPV infections,
(ii) Detecting and treating cervical pre-cancer, and
(iii) Providing timely treatment and palliative care for invasive cancer.
This policy update is said to take the above strategies into account. It also recognises technological advancements in cervical cancer prevention methods and new evidence on prevention and treatment approaches in the context of an endemic HIV epidemic.
Furthermore, this policy makes provision for all women over the age of 30 years to undergo three free cervical cancer screening tests at ten year intervals in South Africa’s public health sector. It also clarifies the availability and screening cycles for women living with HIV. Cervical cancer prevention and control is part of a broad based Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programme implemented by the National Department of Health. A number of concurrent health system interventions operating through other government priority programmes ensure that the necessary infrastructure, medical technology, competent health workforce, and other resources are provided to facilitate effective implementation and monitoring of these policy recommendations.
CANSA was among those acknowledged for the clinical expertise contributed in the development of the policy.