Pink October is underway, the worldwide campaign to raise awareness about women’s cancers and particularly breast cancer, and this year CUAMM is once again involved with some awareness-raising and screening activities in Sofala, Maputo and Zambezia in Mozambique, where many women still die of breast cancer or cervical cancer.
Many women arrive at a late diagnosis of the disease, due to a lack of knowledge of the initial symptoms, which is why the work of raising awareness and prevention carried out by professionals such as Cesarina Flora Da Costa, a maternal and child health nurse who works with CUAMM, is fundamental. Cesarina trains and supports the nurses of the health centres to carry out screening, awareness-raising and treatment activities for cervical cancer in 4 different health units, distributed in the districts of Beira, Dondo and Nhamatanda, in the Province of Sofala. She loves her job and is very satisfied with what she does. Paolo Massaro, project manager of the “Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases” project in Mozambique, tells us about it. He interviewed Cesarina showing her commitment to fighting cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women in Africa.
What do you think is the best way to inform and bring women closer to prevention and screening services?
“All women should have cervical cancer screening. I think the best way to reach more and more women is to have educational campaigns, in the communities, where you can talk directly to people. When I am involved in these activities, I use photographic materials, leaflets, and try to use the power of images to explain and convince people of the importance of screening. But it is not easy, especially in rural areas, because women think it is a waste of time to go to the health centre, but I am stubborn and I never tire of trying.
“When they come to the health centre, sometimes women are afraid to get examined, take off their clothes and get screened, but when I am present in the clinic, hardly any woman leaves without getting screened. I think I have a gift for talking and convincing other women. I always tell the other younger nurses I work with: you have to use simple, direct language and reach everyone, even the humblest or uninterested people, to make them understand the importance of screening. And I am just as stubborn about it with family and friends. Even during trainings I organise with health care personnel, I always put a lot of emphasis on practical sessions and try to show the participating nurses in practice what needs to be done, using anatomical models and trying to involve the participants as much as possible. Sometimes I realise that the work is not easy, but as a woman I feel good when I can help another woman. It’s a choice I made a long time ago and I’m glad I made it. I can say it out loud: I feel good to help others”.
And from the smile on Cesarina’s face as she says these words, we can hardly believe it.