SADC Members of Parliament sitting on the SADC PF HIV Committee met in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 1st of March 2013 to discuss the availability of services and policies related to cervical cancer in the SADC region.
The meeting was attended by members of parliament from the Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe as well as representatives from the The Southern African Development Community’s Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) Head Office in Windhoek. The overall objective of the meeting was to increase cervical cancer awareness among parliamentarians in southern Africa to enable them to advocate for better access to cervical cancer services within their countries.
The meeting was officially opened by Ms Boemo Sekgoma of the SADC PF. In her welcome address, Ms Sekgoma highlighted that cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in southern Africa. She also emphasised that the negative impact of cervical cancer is exacerbated in southern Africa given the high prevalence of HIV among women in the region. Ms Sekgoma further highlighted that according to research, cervical cancer is easily preventable and treatable in any resource setting.
SALC led an introductory session on cancer and understanding its wide-reaching social, economic, development, and human rights implications. The meeting was then addressed by Dr Cindy Firnhaber, a medical practitioner specialising in Cervical Cancer and HIV at the Department of Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, Helen Joseph Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr Firnhaber gave a very informative presentation explaining the natural history of cervical cancer, risk factors and treatment as well as the intersections with HIV.
Finally SALC provided findings of the research undertaken by SALC on the availability of policies on cervical cancer in the region as well as the availability and access to cervical cancer services in southern Africa.
The meeting resolved that each Member of Parliament at the meeting would table a report on the status of cervical cancer management in their country their parliaments. Parliamentarians requested technical assistance from SALC in the form of fact sheets on the situation in each country in order to investigate the matter further as well as to enable tabling the issue before the relevant parliamentary committees in each country.
At an individual level, members of parliament committed to go back and investigate what is happening in their respective countries as well as to use appropriate forums in their constituency to raise awareness on cervical cancer prevention. The parliamentarians also requested a database of cancer institutions in each country to enable them to form partnerships with local stakeholders.
It was also resolved that the SADC PF as an institution should incorporate cervical cancer into its work and ensure that a report of the sensitisation meeting is tabled before the SADC PF plenary assembly to be held in April to ensure that awareness of the problem is extended to other members of parliament.
The Parliamentarians also highlighted that there should be some engagement with the SADC Ministers of Health in order to better understand how the region is dealing with the cervical cancer challenge in the region. Finally the meeting committed to explore the possibility of working with the SADC Secretariat to adopt minimum standards or benchmarks on cervical cancer management in the region.
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ONE RESPONSE TO “SALC HOSTS SENSITISATION MEETING OF SADC MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ON CERVICAL CANCER”
Emelda Boikanyo says: 27 MAY, 2013 AT 10:21 AM Thank you for the Effort. I’m a Prof Nurse Initiating Sponsor-a-Papsmear Project. It is encouraging to read about such efforts by SALC. You have my support.