‘Save My Mother’: SOS Children preventing cervical cancer in Zambia
In countries such as Zambia, a lack of testing facilities and knowledge of cervical cancer has contributed to a high infection rate. Delays in diagnosis often prevent women from receiving treatment until it is too late. SOS Children have recently launched “Save My Mother”, a programme designed to raise awareness and reduce mortality from the disease.
Across the developing world, 200,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Over 75% of deaths from cervical cancer are among women from developing countries such as Zambia. This has left thousands of children orphans, vulnerable and alone.
SOS Children have launched “Save My Mother”, an initiative which will work alongside the government to raise awareness of the disease and educate 400,000 women about the importance of regular testing. Through early interventions, it is hoped that women's lives will be saved, and children will be able to grow up with their mothers.
The First Lady of Zambia, Dr Christine Kaseba, officially opened SOS Children’s project earlier this month. Dr Kaseba said that it was unacceptable that thousands of women across the world continued to die from cervical cancer, when the disease could be prevented.
In recent years, the Zambian government has invested in their medical facilities to diagnose women at the earliest possible stage, and, when necessary, provide them with treatment to improve their chances of survival. In 2007, Zambia’s first Cancer Diseases Hospital was opened in Lusaka, offering medication for sufferers of diseases including cervical cancer. Previously, many Zambians were forced to travel abroad to receive treatment for cancers, something which the poor were unable to do. Whilst Zambia has achieved some successes in its medical facilities in recent years, there is still a long way to go in terms of preventing the spread of cervical cancer.
Dr Kaseba highlighted the importance of the vaccine against cervical cancer which is now available. “Let me also appeal to Zambian women to take advantage of the vaccine against cervical cancer as it is able to cut down almost 75% of the chances of somebody catching the disease,” she said.
National Director of SOS Children in Zambia, Florence Phiri, says that worldwide, over 50,000 children every year are orphaned after their mothers die from cervical cancer. Florence says that the “Save My Mother” project will provide cervical cancer screening facilities for approximately 15,000 women. The far-reaching programme will also raise awareness about prevention with more than 400,000 women in the country.