The impact of the social environment on Zambian cervical cancer prevention practices

14 April, 2019

CITATION: The impact of the social environment on Zambian cervical cancer prevention practices

Anayawa Nyambe, Jarl K. Kampen, Stridutt K. Baboo and Guido Van Hal

BMC Cancer 2018 18:1242


Background: Cervical cancer which is preventable by screening and vaccination is the most common cancer in Zambia among both the female and male population. In this article we aim to determine how the key players of the sociocultural and political environment recognize cervical cancer as a public health problem and therefore impact the provision of cervical cancer prevention services (screening and vaccination).

Methods: Qualitative data in the form of interviews with stakeholders (health care providers, teachers and religious leaders), special interest groups (advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations) and policy makers, was collected as part of a mixed methods study from February to May 2016.

Results: The views expressed by the respondents were coded into predetermined themes (cervical cancer in general, screening, vaccination) and an organizational chart of the administration of cervical cancer prevention services in Zambia was developed.

Conclusions: It is evident that the Zambian cervical cancer prevention system has targeted several areas and multiple sectors of society to reduce cervical cancer cases. However, awareness, knowledge, social support and facilities are factors that can be improved.


Cervical cancer is estimated to be diagnosed in 2330 Zambian women every year and 1380 die from the disease

Although it was reported that the public is sensitized on cervical cancer, some nurses, teachers and church leaders do not even practice prevention or know where services are provided. Lack of awareness, fear and misconceptions greatly limited uptake of prevention practices as identified by previous studies [4, 8, 10]. This has probably reason it was reported women seek screening services in late stages of cervical cancer development when symptoms are present. It was also reported that parents were hesitant to vaccinate their daughters because of fear of future sterility and religious beliefs. Clearly, there is a need for more information sharing among stakeholders who have contact with the public to ensure that incorrect facts, religious and cultural beliefs that might increase the risk of cervical cancer are not encouraged.


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HIFA-Zambia profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of HIFA-Zambia and the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: