Barriers and facilitators to cervical cancer screening in Nepal: A qualitative study
BACKGROUND Globally, cervical cancer places a large burden on individual women, families, economies, and impoverished health systems. The majority of deaths from cervical cancer occur in less developed regions. In 2018, cervical cancer was reported by the World Health Organisation as the fourth most common cancer in women in the world with 311,365 deaths. Despite being preventable, cervical cancer remains the most common cancer among women in Nepal, a country where there is no nationwide screening program. This study aimed to gain a better understanding of complex barriers that have prevented women from attending cervical cancer screening in Nepal and what may facilitate their actions. The authors anticipated that the findings would serve as a basis for countries with a similar screening situation to that of Nepal to prepare effective guidelines for the development of women-friendly policies for cervical cancer screening. METHOD The study employed a qualitative approach to explore Nepali women's attitudes on cervical cancer screening, particularly their thoughts on related barriers and facilitators. Focus groups were formed to record the aggregate aspects of individuals' cervical cancer screening experiences. KEY FINDINGS The authors validated that cervical cancer is common in the country. This study also explored women’s perceptions of participating in a screening program and they observed sociocultural, finances, service providers, and geography were identified as obstacles. CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION This article offers stakeholders in Nepal insights into women’s perceptions of cervical cancer screening practices in the country. The authors recommended the provision of affordable, accessible, and women-friendly cervical cancer screening programs for women in Nepal. In addition to that provision, a creatively tailored ‘mass awareness’ program is required to address the revealed misconceptions about cervical cancer screening. They also recommended the provision of training for health care providers of both genders to perform cervical cancer screening. As a United Nations member state, Nepal has signed and worked towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. The findings contribute information on Nepalese women’s perceptions of cervical cancer screening. They may serve to support the Government of Nepal’s promotion of cervical cancer screening and treatment as a right for all Nepali women, whenever necessary.
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