The first phase of cervical cancer screening and treatment for women between the ages of 35 and 45 years is set to begin in September.
The exercise will start soon after the arrival of a HPV-DNA cancer screening mobile machine donated by Qiagen, a US-based organization.
In an interview with The New Times, Dr Muhayimpundu Ribakare, the Head of HIV and STI’s care and treatment unit at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre announced that the exercise would begin in September.
“The program will kick off in a month’s time. We are beginning with 24 health facilities but we have a three-year action plan. We believe that by 2013, we shall have reached out to the whole country,” Muhayimpundu said.
She added said that cervical cancer kills the largest number of women compared to other forms of cancer, hence its prioritisation by the Ministry of Health.
Muhayimpundu said that though much attention is on cervical cancer, they would draw an action plan to tackle other types of cancer in the country.
She explained that after the completion of the prevention part through vaccination among young girls, they are now ready for the next stage.
“At the moment, we are carrying out sensitisation and training sessions among leaders and health providers who are expected to go out to the grassroots and sensitise women about cervical cancer,” the doctor said.
She explained that though the HPV screening was a very expensive yet vital program, the ministry would conduct the exercise for free to reach out to the many communities that would otherwise not afford it.
“HPV-DNA screening costs between a US$1,000 and US$2,000 which most of our people can’t afford. We are trying to see how we can integrate treatment costs as well into the existing insurance schemes so it can be affordable to many,” said Ribakare.
Natalia Uwimana, 53, said that the screening would create awareness and reduce the plight of cancer cases among women in the country.