As part of January, the month devoted to raising awareness of cervical cancer every year, the Cameroonian Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW), a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), recently conducted an intense awareness campaign focused on cervical cancer. Their initiatives covered the Littoral region to spread understanding of prevention, screening more women, and providing both medical and psychological support to combat this scourge.
"Given cervical cancer's high incidence and mortality in Africa, and January being Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, CAMNAFAW needed to expand its contribution to the fight against this disease - reaffirming our commitment to protecting the health of African girls and women," said Lotti Edjenguele, CAMNAFAW's executive director.
IPPF has made tremendous progress in the fight against cervical cancer in Africa. However, it remains the leading cause of cancer death among women on the continent. Early detection is key, but lack of access and education create barriers. CAMNAFAW's on-the-ground action aims to save lives through strategic community engagement.
The IPPF member association's messages emphasized the causes, consequences and crucial importance of early screening. Awareness sessions were held with groups of women, including the Women's Awakening Association, the Circle of Solidarity Friends and the Ndongbang Health Air Association. Each dialogue involved about 30 women. Mobilization was also done digitally and door-to-door, specifically targeting the most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Free screenings began on January 15 and continue through January 31 at CAMNAFAW's Bepanda and Essec clinics, targeting 200 economically disadvantaged girls and women. "In all disease initiatives, the Cameroonian government prioritizes 'test and treat.' Working alongside institutions, CAMNAFAW also follows this approach. The free cervical cancer screening we offer holds significance as the disadvantaged women we target in this campaign cannot always afford this vital health service for their wellbeing," Lotti explained.
All medical staff were dedicated to providing quality, compassionate care. Any suspicion triggers additional testing, with psychological support protocols in place. The Public Health delegation partnered to facilitate referrals to appropriate facilities if cancer is identified. The success of the campaign is evaluated by the number of women who underwent screening, as well as indicators of the number of women informed online and in person, positively diagnosed, and assisted afterward.
By tackling cervical cancer through frank discussions and improving access to screening tests, CAMNAFAW is empowering women and raising awareness in Cameroon.
To see the informational video produced by CAMNAFAW, click here.
The campaign conducted by CAMNAFAW in Cameroon illustrates the strong commitment of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in the Africa region in terms of awareness and fight against cervical cancer.
Present on the continent since the 1950s and currently counting 36 member associations and collaborative partners in Africa, IPPF is waging a relentless battle for reproductive health, with a particular emphasis on the prevention and screening of cervical cancer, which is hitting African women hard.
By Moctar MENTA