The Southern Africa Litigation Centre recently released a report, Tackling Cervical Cancer: Improving Access to Cervical Cancer Services for Women in Southern Africa, addressing the state of cervical cancer services in the region. Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among women in southern Africa, and is either the primary or secondary cause of cancer death among women in all 10 countries in which the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) works. Moreover, the negative impact of cervical cancer is exacerbated in southern Africa given the high prevalence of HIV among women in the region.
Cervical cancer is easily preventable and treatable in any resource setting. However, necessary services to prevent and treat cervical cancer have not been made available or easily accessible in southern Africa. The report, based on a combination of desktop research and field research in Namibia and Zambia on the availability of and access to cervical cancer services, found that very few countries in the region have comprehensive policies on cervical cancer. Essential prevention services such as screening and vaccination are also not widely available in the public health sector in most countries, and treatment for both pre-cancerous lesions and invasive cancer remains a challenge.
The report seeks to address the barriers to accessing cervical cancer services through providing information on the nature of cervical cancer and identifying the current availability of services for cervical cancer in southern Africa. The report also highlights the human rights obligations of southern African governments to effectively address cervical cancer in order to save women from unnecessary suffering, disability and death.
We hope that government officials, and officials at regional human rights mechanisms, as well as civil society organisations working on cancer, sexual and reproductive health, HIV and women’s rights seeking to improve access to and availability of cervical cancer services in their countries will find the report useful to their work.
Download the report here.
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