Cancer Diseases Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Biemba Maliti says most women who are HIV positive tend develop cervical cancer faster than those that are non-reactive.

Meanwhile, Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) Director General Julien Mwape has lamented that persons with disabilities experience a certain form of discrimination in health care delivery.

The duo were speaking at a seminar organized by the Swedish Embassy and the University of Zambia School of Public Health, Wednesday, under the topic; ‘The right to health and universal Health Coverage in Zambia- is everyone included?’

“HIV is the driver of cervical cancer. You will find that most women that are HIV positive will develop cervical cancer faster and sooner than somebody who is non reactive. So apart from cervical cancer which is about 33 percent of our cancer patients, breast cancer comes to the close second, meaning almost half of the cancer patients are females. With cervical cancer, screening has been rolled out to almost every district in this country, so that’s a start. We are also now trying to roll out breast cancer screening and every provincial hospital does have a mammogram, which sadly are not yet being utilized,” Maliti said.

She noted that cancer treatment was free in Zambia.

“Our government is doing well because by the way, if you are a Zambian, cancer treatment is free. And most of you know its not cheap. You are talking about minimum of K15,000 to treat one person and some as much as K50,000. At least we are trying to ensure that Zambians are not paying for cancer treatment. Our colleagues [from other countries] find it very weird because we are considered a poor country so the question is ‘how do you afford not to charge people for this service, are you not supposed to make money?’ But the question is ‘if you charge money, who would afford to pay for it’,” said Maliti.

Meanwhile, Mwape said people with disabilities experienced discrimination in health care delivery which made them shun hospitals.

She cited sexual reproductive health care as one of the areas where they were discriminated against.

“Persons with disabilities experience a certain form of discrimination in health care delivery. Some of the areas are when it comes to sexual reproductive health care. When a person with a disability goes to a hospital or clinic, there is this perception that they are asexual, naturally, they shouldn’t be looking for contraceptives. We also have a challenge in terms of HIV. When a person with disability goes for HIV testing for instance, what they are faced with in terms of attitude make them not want to go back again because the first question would be ‘what are you doing having sex, don’t you feel sorry for yourself?’ It makes persons with disabilities shun from coming to the hospitals and what results is people dying in silence,” Mwape lamented.

She further noted that human rights of people with mental disabilities were being abrogated through forced sterilization.

“People with mental disabilities, their legal capacity by the law is that they are not capable of making decisions for themselves, including health decisions. So we have situations where they are facing forced sterilization. A decision is made for them by a clinical care giver to stop them from having children out of sympathy or just a general care. But what this is, its an abrogation of the human rights of that person. There has to be a relative, a personal assistance or some close who is able to make that decision alongside the health care professional,” said Mwape.