Covid-19 restrictions limit women from crucial cancer screenings

Cancer screening in KwaZulu health facility drops. [Image: courtesy]
South Africa—Statistics have indicated that women in South Africa have abandoned cancer screenings because of fear of contacting Covid-19.

Since the pandemic broke out last year, most South Africans have chosen not to move close to health facilities with the majority citing fear of breathing in the communicable virus.

Fear of contracting the disease, enhancement of curfews, quarantine, and transport restrictions have been the sole reasons for a drop in HIV/Aids and TB patients collecting medication during the first hard lockdown in the country.

Experts believe that with the continuous missing of treatment, it could result in people developing resistance to medications and set back campaigns by years. Surveys by the healthcare organization Right to care and the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) shows a drop of about 50% in medication collection during the lockdown.

According to AHRI director Prof Willem Hanekom, it is the research in KwaZulu-Natal, which includes a survey on people accessing chronic medicines for HIV, TB, and other diseases, showed that two weeks after the lockdown began, nearly 50% reported they could not access their medications.

The research revealing that many women have not had their cancer screenings over the last 18 months, due to the lockdown and fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus as well as financial pressure.

A maximum of 22% of those survey had been for a Pap smear to screen for ovarian or cervical cancer and just 14% had been for a mammogram to screen for breast cancer.

“Early detection of cancer is key for quick treatment and a better chance of recovery. If you are experiencing symptoms which concern you, it is vital to have them investigated, by a health professional as soon as possible. It is also important to know what screening options are available to you. “A report from American Cancer Society read.