The City of Johannesburg is continuing with its programmes to promote women’s health, including HPV vaccination for girls to prevent cervical cancer and strengthening programmes that deal with breast cancer.
One in 27 women in South Africa will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time while one in 42 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. The risk in African women for breast cancer increases to one in 53 and is one in 35 for cervical cancer.
The City’s Health outreach programmes during August focuses mainly on issues that are of major concern for women in the City of Johannesburg.
Health education is being conducted in the clinics during which women will be informed about the range of free services available at the City’s health care facilities and on healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate and control certain conditions.
Hlubikazi Ntamehlo, Deputy Director: Public Health in the City of Johannesburg, says the outreach programmes during Women’s Month are making an impact in creating awareness about women’s health and reach a number of women in the City.
“Among the conditions that present most frequently in women are cancers, HIV and lifestyle diseases (non-communicable diseases),” she says.
“High rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments in women are a huge reality. This is despite the availability of resources to help people understand their personal health and wellness needs. For the Women’s Month, the focus is on accountability of one’s health needs,” said Ntamehlo.
Some of the most common women’s health issues in Johannesburg are:
Cancer: Two of the most common cancers affecting women are cervical and breast cancers. Breast cancer is the most predominant cancer affecting women, impacting over 1.5 million women globally each year.
Breast cancer symptoms include lump inside the breast, breast pain, and change in appearance of the skin or breast shape and nipple discharge.
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of cure and the easier it is to treat. Two strategies are early screening and diagnosis.
“Breast cancer screening is an attempt to achieve early diagnosis to improve the health outcomes. Screening methods include self-breast examination, clinical breast examination, and mammogram,” said Ntamehlo.
Maternal and Child health: The City of Johannesburg has made major progresses over the past years to improve the health status of pregnant women and young children through the provision of antenatal care services and childhood vaccination to prevent common vaccine preventable illnesses.
HIV/Aids: Comprehensive treatment and care programmes are being offered at all clinics in the City of Johannesburg and figures are showing major reductions in infection rates among HIV exposed infants.
Lifestyle diseases: The City’s health education has increased awareness about how lifestyle choices can improve the quality of life of residents and counter many conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
The City’s Health Department works in close collaboration with various partners including non-profit organisations and community structures to inform women about available services and support for women at the health facilities.