By: Rosebell Kagumire
04 November 2010
SOROTI, Uganda, Nov 4, 2010 (IPS) – Josephine Adongo’s heart leapt when she heard that two doctors from Kampala were offering free medical exams in Soroti. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at a regional hospital more than a year previously, but unable to afford to travel to the capital for treatment.
Adongo, a 68-year-old farmer who lost everything during Uganda’s long conflict against the insurgent Lords Resistance Army, was diagnosed with cancer at the local hospital in May 2009. But the only cancer treatment centre in Uganda was 300 kilometres away.
She was disappointed to find that the visiting doctors had only come to screen women and refer anyone with dangerous signs to Kampala.
The screening, which is rare service to ordinary women across Uganda, was being offered by ISIS-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange, as part of the commemoration of ten years of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. ISIS is a women’s organisation that seeks to raise attention on the reproductive health of women in post-conflict areas.
Cervical cancer, caused primarily by the human papillomavirus (HPV), is the second most common cancer among women worldwide. In Uganda it ranks as the most frequently occurring cancer among women. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) September 2010 report titled, “Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers in Uganda”, every year 3,577 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 2,464 die from the disease.
Women like Adongo, in remote regions are at high risk.