Uptake of cervical cancer screening services in urban Zimbabwe: Healthcare provider perspectives

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Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev


Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe is among the top 6 countries with the highest cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates. Despite the disproportionate and growing burden, uptake of cervical cancer screening remains low. Little is known about the perceptions of healthcare providers who play a vital role in the provision and implementation of cervical cancer screening. This study explores healthcare provider perceptions of the factors that influence the uptake of cervical cancer screening in Zimbabwe.

Methods: One-on-one in-depth interviews were conducted with healthcare providers currently or previously involved in cervical cancer prevention programs at select hospitals and clinics in Harare and Chinhoyi - two urban cities in Zimbabwe. A deductive thematic approach was used to analyze qualitative data to understand factors influencing the provision and uptake of cervical cancer screening.

Results: We conducted 21 interviews with healthcare providers working in cervical cancer prevention for an average of 4 years. Three main themes related to the provision of cervical cancer screening were funding availability through donor support, demand of screening services, and availability of technical and human resources. Experiencing symptoms and no-cost screening services were perceived as facilitators for uptake of cervical cancer screening, while lack of adequate health education about cervical cancer and misconceptions about the screening procedure and outcomes were perceived as barriers to uptake of screening. Majority of the providers recommended increased sensitization and health education through various platforms; outreach initiatives; and training of more healthcare providers to conduct cervical cancer screening.

Conclusion: This study contributes to a holistic understanding and identification of intervention points to effectively increase uptake of cervical cancer screening. Multilevel strategies promoting awareness of cervical cancer screening and strengthening healthcare systems may contribute significantly to increasing cervical cancer screening rates which in turn will lead to reducing the burden of cervical cancer in Zimbabwe.





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