You are here

Last week routine services for early diagnosis of cervical cancer became available for Maldivian women. Maryam, a 36 year old mother of two, was voluntarily screened when health care workers in Male' were trained. Her decision to take part in the training program was lifesaving. Maryam was one of the three women turned positive out of the 88 who participated in the pilot screening program.

"It was the most depressing news from a medical checkup" she said. However, with the introduction of the new cervical cancer screening services, Maryam's life has been saved. "The best news is when the doctor told me that the hospital was able to treat me on the spot" continued Maryam. Like Maryam conservatively we estimate 700 Maldivian women's lives can be saved, with an early diagnosis.

On 19 January 2014 the Ministry of Health and Gender commenced cervical cancer screening with, UNFPA support to establish the first ever cancer screening service in the country, train health care providers on diagnosis and treatment, and the situation analysis for cervical cancer in Maldives. The program uses the "Visual Inspection Acetic acid (VIA) technique at the recently opened Dhamanaveshi - urban public health center in the capital Male. Cervical cancer prevention program is also part of the 100 day road map of the new government.

The main objective of this service is to get women tested for cervical cancer and save lives by treatment of early symptoms. Government's plan is to offer screening test for women 30-50 years free of charge at 5 year intervals and for those who need treatment the cost will be covered under the national health insurance scheme asandha.
The Program Manager at Health protection Agency of Ministry of Health Dr Mariyam Jennifer is very positive about the response and noted a very high demand even during the first week.