Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA)

Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA) was granted $427,688 to increase early diagnosis of major NCDs (CVDs, hypertension and stroke), diabetes, breast and cervical cancers as well as tuberculosis cases through community awareness and screening services in select regions of Tanzania by December 2020.

Need

In Tanzania the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has been increasing steadily (Mayige M, 2012). The World Health Organization (WHO) country estimates of 2010 showed that NCDs accounted for 27% of all deaths in Tanzania (WHO, 2011). In 2008, it was estimated that NCDs caused a total of 75.7 and 58.8 deaths per 1000 population, of which 42.8% and 28.5 were below the age of 60 years among males and females respectively. The National survey (2012) showed that the levels of risk factors are high: current tobacco users (15.9%), alcohol drinkers (29.3%), overweight and obese (26%), raised cholesterol (26%) and raised triglycerides (33.8%). The study also revealed a high prevalence of diabetes (9.1%) and hypertension (25.9%). Cancer is another major NCD, being the second leading cause of death in developed countries and one of the three leading causes of death for adults in developing countries.

Cervical Cancer is among cancers that can be detected at an early stage or at a pre-cancerous stage and be cured. In Tanzania, its incidence rate per 100,000 women is 50.9, while the mortality rate per 100,000 women is 37.5 [Source: GLOBOCAN 2008 (IARC)]. This incidence is among the highest in the whole world.

About 25% of Tanzanian women will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes, and almost half of all diagnosed patients will die due to late diagnosis. Early onset of sexual debut, multiple partners and HIV are major contributing factors to the cervical cancer burden, with lack of awareness, shortage of screening programs and challenged referral systems adding to these preventable deaths. Women living with HIV and AIDS are threefold more at risk of developing cervical cancer than others.

Nevertheless, breast cancer prevalence in Tanzania is 8-9%, meaning one in eight women in Tanzania develop breast cancer, hence need to take early preventive measures to save them. About 80% of women are diagnosed when the cancer is in advanced stage and not curable. While the burden of NCD is on the increase, communicable diseases in Tanzania are still a challenge, hence the country faces a double burden of disease. For example Tuberculosis (TB) has remained a major public health problem affecting many people especially those living with HIV and AIDS. Tanzania is among the 22 countries with high TB burden in the world. TB prevalence in the country is 528 cases per 100,000 while The National TB and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) is notifying less than 64,000 TB cases per year equivalent to 36%. Rural areas are the most affected areas with TB (PST results, 2013), the areas where MEWATA also reaches with cancer screening campaigns.

Project

Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA) seeks to increase early diagnosis of major NCDs (CVDs, hypertension and stroke), diabetes, breast and cervical cancers as well as tuberculosis cases through community awareness and mass screening services in Njombe, Ruvuma and, Lindi regions of Tanzania.

MEWATA also seeks to educate health management teams and ward and community leadership on the burden of NCDs and TB in the three project regions.

Partners

  • Ministry of Health,
  • National TB Leprosy Program