The Ministry of Health has launched a See and Treat campaign aimed at detecting and treating cervical cancer signs before they can develop into a serious disease. Bontleng clinic, which is the only clinic in Gaborone that does the See and Treat, is already welcoming a dozen of women daily eager to get tested. The ministry’s Chief Public Relations Officer, Doreen Motshegwa, said in their lifeline men and women mostly contact the human papilloma virus (HPV) and can transmit the disease to each other during sexual intercourse.
She said that in a lot of people, the HPV virus tend to disappear on its own and that is why most women end up having cervical cancer because they would not have had the symptoms or they just disappeared on their own. “If the HPV virus stays in the body for a long time without being treated, it ends up making changes that may end up causing cervical cancer if they are not treated,” she said. She said it can take about 10-30 years before the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer. With Botswana women now introduced to the See and Treat it is very easy to prevent cervical cancer where a health practitioner detects any changes in the cervix and if any then they will be treated right away.
Every woman can be part of the programme as long as they have had sex before, and those that are HIV positive are the ones that are mostly encouraged to do the test because they are at a high risk of having cervical cancer. See and Treat is only applicable to those who are 30 years and above. Motshegwa revealed that they start at 30 because the HPV virus can take 10 or more years before it can be detected.
The treatment is called cryotheraphy which involves putting in the medication in the changes that are in the cervix. It takes only 15 minutes. A woman is then expected to take six weeks without having sex so that the cervix can heal completely. After the healing the woman is supposed to take in precautionary measures to make sure that they do not contact the virus. A heath practitioner will advise them and their partner on how they can stay healthy.