Statement of the Problem
Despite the acknowledgement that the existing cancer burden is preventable, new cases and deaths remain high and this is mainly due to the lack of information and knowledge that would facilitate prevention and early detection amongst the general population. Individuals are not aware of the basic facts of the disease, its risk factors and how to minimise exposure to the risks. Like in many other countries, the majority of Zimbabweans have continued to engage in lifestyles that continue to place their health at risk of cancer and these include smoking, alcoholism, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets. There is a large cancer knowledge gap among general population of Zimbabwe.
In addition to the knowledge gaps on prevention, the majority of the cancer patients present with the condition very late resulting in less chances of treatment success. Early diagnosis not only increases the chances of treatment success but results in lower and affordable treatment cost. Late diagnosis is mainly due to lack of knowledge among patients who consult clinics when they are at advanced stages. Several empirical studies prove that improved survival rates for cancer depend upon the diagnosis of cancer at an early stage. However, the disease is not being treated with the urgency it deserves due to the widespread lack of knowledge. Although there is overwhelming evidence on the relationship between cancer and STIs including HIV and AIDS, there is also very limited integration of prevention and management services for these conditions. This is coupled with a weak referral system. Currently, there are funding constraints and inadequate skills for cancer prevention and control. This scenario therefore, calls for an urgent availing of cancer screening services and information dissemination to dispel all the myths and misconceptions. The current scenario calls for a well-integrated approach to the national cancer response.
Rotary Club Highlands and the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe, hereby proposes a 1-year intervention project named: "Cervical Cancer Screening and Education Programme". In line with the identified need, the project goals and objectives are aimed at providing cancer information and mobile screening services in rural areas:
1.1. Project Goal:
To reduce late presentation (3rd and 4th stages) of common cancers (cervical cancer) through cancer informationdissemination and screening
1.1.1. Specific Objectives:
(i) Educate the rural women in remote areas about risk factors and preventive measures of cervical and breast cancer
(ii) Screen the women of cervical cancer, treat precancerous lesions and facilitate treatment of identified cases
(iii) Provision of psychosocial support and referral channels to rural women diagnosed of cancer.
This project will see the Cancer Association running a Mobile VIAC (Visual Inspection with acetic acid and Cervicography)Clinic for the screening of cervical cancer, treating precancerous lesions and doing clinical breast examination for women in selected remote areas. This is a double barrelled project through which the organisation intent to offer two mobile services (mobile based cervical cancer education and Mobile screening) at once. This is because once educated of cancer the women need the screening facilities, referrals and follow up for treatment services. Thus our mobile clinic will incorporates treatment of the abnormal cells of the cervix using Cryotherapyand refers suspicious cases accordingly.
The cancer information dissemination is an integral component of this project. Information will be disseminated through the development and distribution of IEC materials with high impact messages on basic facts on cancer, prevention and early detection guidelines and/or recommendations. Rotary Club of Highlands will assist in the dissemination of the information. The materials will include posters and flyers, which will be distributed to all the districts of operation. Rotarians and female volunteers in remote districts will also be recruited and capacitated to disseminate cancer information in their respective wards.These volunteers and other community leaders will provide a conduit through which communal women will be mobilised for screening.
The Cancer Association will work collaboratively with the , Rotary Club of Highlands and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and will also make use of these partnerships to lobby and advocate for the development and rollout of cancer management protocols as well as resource mobilisation for the necessary equipment that would facilitate early detection and diagnosis.
The budget for the project is as follows:
Capital Costs US$213,380
Operational Costs US$103,054
Administration Costs US$51,660
Total Costs US$368,094