Women with HIV have a much higher risk of dying from cervical cancer since many also carry the human papillomavirus (HPV) and their immune systems are weakened. Newlands Clinic has therefore been offering its female patients cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment since 2011. An initial screening showed that a third of the women had precancerous lesions and required treatment. Thanks to regular check-up examinations, the figures are now declining.
Dedicated department with six treatment rooms
Thanks to an earmarked bequest, these services can now be significantly expanded. Swiss Aids Care International has been able to buy and redevelop the building adjacent to the clinic. The new Women’s Health Centre was opened yesterday in a ceremony attended by Swiss guests and the famous Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi. The centre has six treatment rooms, and its own reception area to ensure privacy. The medical team comprises Dr. Margie Pascoe, who heads the centre, a gynaecologist and four specially trained nurses.
Matthias Widmaier, Country Director at Newlands Clinic: “The opening of the Women’s Health Centre is a key step for our clinic. This will enable us to provide comprehensive care to even more patients, and we are expecting to treat some 3,000 girls and women this year.”
Prof. Ruedi Lüthy, Medical Director: “Cervical cancer poses a major threat to women with HIV in developing countries. I’m delighted that we will now be able to train more specialists and treat more patients. After all, the better we can support these women, the better it will be for their whole families.”
Considerable demand for specialists
There is massive demand for healthcare workers who are competent in the area of cervical cancer screening in Zimbabwe. Newlands Clinic was recognised as a reference centre for training in this area in 2013, and offers a cervical cancer screening course for doctors and nurses from across the country. After completing the course, they are then able to diagnose and treat cervical cancer independently.
Advisory services for women and girls
In addition to medical treatment, the new Women’s Health Centre offers family planning services as well as the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. The new centre will also provide advice to girls and women who are victims of sexual abuse and gender based violence. As an additional preventative measure, it is planned to offer an HPV vaccination for girls between the ages of 10 and 16 from June 2015.