—-First Lady, Christine Kaseba, says there is need for meaningful and collective efforts in the fight against cervical cancer if the battle was to be won.
And Former United States President, George Bush has urged women in Livingstone to take advantage of the cervical cancer clinics to get screened for the disease.
Speaking during the launch of the newly refurbished Mosi-O-Tunya clinic by the George W. Bush Institute today, Dr Kaseba said it was only through collective efforts by everyone that many women’s lives will be saved throughout the African continent.
Dr Kaseba observed that collectivism, rapid expansion and sustainability should guide the next phase in African cervical cancer control.
“We can no longer operate as individual countries in fighting cervical cancer but we need to regionalize our activities to so that we can expand rapidly through the continent in saving lives of our women and the refurbishment of this centre is a perfect examples of the kind of meaningful collective efforts that will save lives throughout our continent,” said Dr Kaseba.
“The beautiful thing is that we know what works and how to make it work so we need to rapidly expand the infrastructure and services through collective sharing of knowledge and experiences and by expanding ground breaking examples such as the one displayed by the George W. Bush Institute and other partners,” said Dr Kaseba.
Dr Kaseba also said there was need to discover and implement innovative market based approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment of cervical cancer so that patients have access to medical services that are of world class quality at an affordable price.
The First Lady pointed out that government has shown commitment to the fight against the disease through massive investment in expanding health facilities to provide cervical cancer screening and treatment and palliative care.
She said the launch of the newly refurbished clinic gives her hope that one day the battle against cervical cancer will be conquered, adding that the hope can only become a reality if only women utilize the services being brought to their doorsteps.
“I believe that government fully recognizes the importance of lowering the burden of cervical cancer as demonstrated by the investment made in expanding ‘see and treat’ services in to every province and commitment to making the country cervical and breast cancer free,” said Dr Kaseba.
“And this occasion today gives me hope that one day we shall conquer cervical cancer but that will depend on if women utilize such facilities and I, therefore, call on women in Livingstone to take advantage of the services offered by this centre,” she added.
Dr Kaseba further disclosed that following the donation of Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) vaccines 24, 172 out of the targeted 25,000 (96 per cent) girls received the first dose of the vaccines so far.
But Dr Kaseba noted that the country was still grappling with shortage of surgeons to provide care for women with cervical cancer and breast cancer and called on all stakeholders to help government address some of the bottlenecks hindering effective fight against the disease.
Zambia was the first country to become part of the Pink Red Ribbon projects (PRR) and so far more than 100,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer and over 20,000 have been treated.
The PRR project also supported the establishment of the African centre of Excellence for women’s cancer control at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) which has trained, and continues to train, many health workers in breast and cervical cancer.
Dr Kaseba further thanked the George W. Bush Institute for refurbishing the clinic, saying President Micheal Sata was fully aware of efforts by the institute and urged the former US President to continue such works and help women folk to get screened for cervical cancer and reduce mortalities associated with the disease.
She further took the opportunity to invite all the delegates in Mr Bush’s entourage to come back to Livingstone for the United Nations World Tourism General Assembly (UNWTO) in August this year.
Meanwhile, Mr Bush said the Bush Institute was ready to work with the government and other cooperating partners to ensure that cervical cancer was contained in the country.
He stressed that it breaks his heart to see many women dying from curable diseases like cervical cancer, adding that this motivated him to help to refurbish the clinic and encouraged all women in Livingstone to go for cervical cancer screening to save their lives.
The George W. Bush Institute has so far helped to refurbish Ngungu clinic in Kabwe and Mosi-o-Tunya in Livingstone to offer cervical cancer screening and treatment services.
At the same occasion, US Ambassador to Zambia, Matrk Storella, said the US will continue to help the country through such programmes to contain various health challenges to ensure healthy citizens.
The former U.S President, who was accompanied by his wife, Laura Bush, has since left for Tanzania aboard a Boeing 747 at 16:00 hours and was seen off at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport by Southern Province Permanent Secretary, Bernard Namachila, Town Clerk, Vivian Chikoti, US Ambassador to Zambia, Mark Storella, Livingstone District Commissioner, Omar Musanje and other senior government officials.