U.S. Ambassador Thomas F. Daughton officially handed over eight new cancer screening units to the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Honorable Petrina Haingura as “I choose to live” was repeatedly echoed by the crowd at the Health Walk for Cancer in Katatura, Windhoek on Friday, December 12. Early detection and treatment of many cancers, such as cervical cancer, directly result in lives saved. However, critical to preventing and treating the disease is ensuring the availability of screening tools and “debunking the myths on cancer,” the theme of the day.
In July, the Namibian government launched Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) and treatment by Cryotherapy. Also in July, the United States government supported training of nurses and doctors on the “Screen and Treat” technique for cervical cancer using the VIA and Cryotherapy. This means that in a single visit, women will be shown their cervix on the monitor, see the abnormal cells, and immediately receive treatment.
Ambassador Daughton said, “Scientific evidence indicates that women who are HIV positive have a high risk of developing cervical cancer.” Consequently, he explained, the United States government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), provides resources for cervical cancer prevention and control in Namibia and the U.S.-donated colposcopy units will be utilized in the regions with the highest HIV prevalence.
Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a cancer specialist from South Africa, also spoke at the event highlighting the need for community mobilization and education about cancer. She encouraged the many young children in the audience to act as change agents and talk to their mothers, aunts, and other family members about taking responsibility for their health.
Katutura Central Councillor Ambrosius Kandjii publicly thanked Ambassador Daughton for his participation in the event, noting evidence of the Ambassador’s commitment to the community through his presence at the World AIDS Day event and the Health Walk for Cancer.