Nasawa Trust, a Malawian NGO operating in the area of Traditional Authority M'biza in Zomba District of Southern Malawi, has constructed a cervical cancer screening unit at Nasawa Health Centre to complement Ministry of Health's National Cervical Cancer Control Strategy.
The chairperson of Nasawa Trust, Nicholas Mwisama said the project was funded by the US government through the US Embassy in Malawi at 18,800 US dollars (MK13.650 million).
The structure was presented to the Nasawa community and Mwisama expressed gratitude to the US government "for funding this life-saving project which is expected to motivate strategic interventions such as raising awareness and providing screening services that will reach out to more than 16,000 women in the area".
"It is very important to priotise health care and treatment for women especially in rural communities because they contribute to more than 50 percent of agricultural productivity, according to research findings," Mwisama said.
"Hence, there is direct link with the country's economic growth as we are an agriculture based economy. Therefore, I would like to appeal to both local and international organisations to come and partner with us so that we make this centre a model for cervical cancer screening services at community level and help to save lives."
Mwisama said the NGO made an assessment needs survey for the area that involved traditional leaders and their senior subjects and high on their needs was the need to save mothers' lives from cervical cancer.
"The traditional leaders were conversant of the fact that many women were dying from cervical cancer because it was being detected when had already seriously spread in their bodies," he said. "They said Zomba Central Hospital, where they could get help was too far away and discouraged women from seeking help once they felt signs of illness.
"We discovered that they were right because recent research reveal that Malawi has the highest cervical cancer incidence and mortality in the world with age-standardised rate of 76 per 100,000, accounting for over 40 percent of female cancers -- a major cause of mortality and morbidity among women.
"However, according to World Health Organisation (WHO), when identified early, cervical cancer is more likely to respond to effective treatment and can result in a greater probability of surviving, less morbidity and less expensive treatment.
"Significant improvements can be made in the lives of cancer patients by detecting cancer early and avoiding delays in care. Thus in absence of early diagnosis, patients are diagnosed at late stages when curative treatment may no longer be an option."
He further said in line with goal number 3 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasises on good Health Health and Well Being, Malawi Government through the Ministry of Health is currently implementing a National Cervical Cancer Control Strategy in which among other key areas aims to reduce delays in, and barriers to, and allowing patients to access treatment in a timely manner.
This, coupled with what the Nasawa community traditional leaders and their senior subjects requested, the Trust searched for sponsors and found one in the name of the US government to construct the centre.
Mwisama said Nasawa Trust, whose goals are local governance on health, education and agriculture, was established in 2013 and was duly registered with Justice & Constitutional Affairs in 2016.
It was formed by Chimwalira community members in Zomba. The project for the cervical cancer screening centre at Nasawa started in December last year and was completed in July.