Shortage of nurses hinders cancer screening

A shortage of nurses, space limitations and insufficient spares for cervical cancer screening equipment are affecting the work of the United Bulawayo Hospitals, says the sister in charge, Blessing Gomera.

Blessing Gomera: we have to provide some services out of doors.
Blessing Gomera: we have to provide some services out of doors.

“We have 10 nurses in this department but only two are dedicated for cervical cancer while others attend to other services,” she told The Zimbabwean in an interview. “The examining room that we use is too small to accommodate even the equipment needed for screen and one has to transport it from elsewhere.”

Gomera also heads the family planning department. UBH started to offer cervical cancer screening services in 2010 and has two machines for the exercise. “One of the two machines we have is broken down.”

Space for work is also a problem. “Sometimes I have to call another nurse who could be attending another patient because of limited space I cannot record what I should be noticing on the patient. Ideally we need at least 10 nurses to do the work,” she said. “Now we have two.”

“We do not have local companies that can service VIAC machines which have gone for over three years without servicing resulting in the other breaking down,” she added. “Twice we have run out of nitrous oxide which we can only source from Harare something that culminated in suspension of services for about a month.”

Cervical cancer screening is being offered for free at UBH. Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world with 47.4 per 100,000 women infected. This has been mainly attributed to the HIV prevalence of 15 percent and the Human Papilloma Virus. Annually about 1,855 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,286 die from the disease.

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