Cervical cancer is the most common cancers in women. It is often difficult to prevent cancer but cervical cancer is one of those that we can prevent. We can give young girls aged between 9 and 12 years a vaccine and we can do a pap smear to identify and treat abnormal changes that happen before cancer is formed. 

If a woman develops cancer they can be treated but prevention is definitely better than cure as we have cost effective solutions for prevention. South Africa has very good policies that ensure that these tools to prevent and treat cervical cancer are available in schools and health facilities.

In spite of that there are still some young girls and women who don’t access these tools either because they don’t have enough or correct information and refuse the services; or don’t seek the services; or the service is not accessible to them, due to health system and other social determinants. 

Unfortunately black women in South Africa are almost six times more likely to die of cervical cancer than white women because of poor screening and late detection. So having the right policy is very important but it’s just as important to ensure implementation of the policy reaches all women regardless of who they are or where they live or how much money they have.

– Tracey Naledi, Deputy Dean: Health Services, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences


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