Objective: To determine the factors influencing cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment in countries of East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA).
Methods: Data were collected from randomly selected primary health care centres, district and provincial hospitals, and tertiary hospitals in each participating country. Health care workers were interviewed, using a questionnaire; the facilities for screening, diagnosing, and treating cervical cancer in each institution were recorded, using a previously designed checklist.
Findings: Although 95% of institutions at all health care levels in ECSA countries had the basic infrastructure to carry out cervical cytology screening, only a small percentage of women were actually screened. Lack of policy guidelines, infrequent supply of basic materials, and a lack of suitable qualified staff were the most common reasons reported.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that there is an urgent need for more investment in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in ECSA countries. In these, and other countries with low resources, suitable screening programmes should be established.