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UKZN’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal have teamed up with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) to promote awareness of cervical cancer and increase screening coverage next month.

The University’s Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane launched the Umdlavuza Pap Smear Drive during the recent South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Congress in Durban which was themed: Advocating Equitable Access to Women’s Health.

The pap smear drive is aimed at increasing community awareness through encouraging previously untested women to undergo screening for cervical cancer throughout April.

The Department of Health will work closely with health districts, municipalities, mayoral offices, traditional healers, faith-based organisations, schools and community leaders to educate, mobilise and screen communities.

The campaign will culminate in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most pap smears performed under one roof in a day. This will take place on 21 April in the eThekwini district, with the target being 1 000 pap smears.

Eligible women include all those over the age of 30 as well as all HIV-infected women, irrespective of age. Less than 15 000 pap smears are done every month in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘We believe the campaign will create greater awareness around cancer prevention not only in our province but countrywide and encourage a greater focus on cancer prevention activities and strategies which will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of new cancer of the cervix cases in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa,’ said Sebitloane.

For women living in the eThekwini district, screening will take place on 21 April at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban.

Words: Lihle Sosibo