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Pap smear, a small test most women dread

DR ANTOINETTE BOIMA
HEALTH

‘The metal thing that you Doctors insert is very painful’
‘Ah, I’m just feeling fine I don’t need to do it’
‘The results take too long to come out’
‘I’d rather not know than deal with the abnormal results’
‘I did the other year; I didn’t know I had to do it again’

These are some of the excuses that we have to deal with on a daily basis trying to encourage women to do their regular cervical cancer screening (annually or every 2 years). I am hopeful that after this column most women would be willing and confident to go through this life-saving procedure. By the way this test is only for women who have a cervix and who have had sexual intercourse in their lives. Studies show that beyond the age of 65 there is no much benefit in doing a pap smear especially if the results have been negative.


How to prepare
For a most accurate Pap smear result, the genital area should be in its less contaminated state. Hence we encourage women to have a Pap smear at least a week without; having applied any vaginal medicines, douching, intercourse, having any pervaginal discharge, and after finishing their menses. Pregnancy is not a contraindication to having a pap smear done, but it is advised a woman does the test in preparation of conception or waits until she delivers.

The test itself
This is a 5-minute procedure that is done in a Doctor’s room. A lubricated speculum is inserted into a woman’s vagina for proper visualization of the cervix. Samples of the cervical cells are taken using a soft thin brush. These samples are then smeared on a glass slide to be examined under the microscope in the Laboratory. The whole procedure doesn’t hurt and the patient should be able to walk out in an unchanged state and carry on with their day without any restrictions. However there may be a little spotting of blood following the procedure.

The results
It takes an average of 6 months for most of our public facilities to process the results. However, most of the abnormal results will be communicated to the patient as soon as they are seen by a health care officer. In the private sector (Diagnofirm etc) it takes a couple of weeks and even without a medical aid having the test done is still very much affordable. After receiving the test result, the Doctor should be able to explain in detail what they mean. Cervical cancer takes years and even up to a decade to develop. What a pap smear does is it gives the patient a chance to know the condition of the cervix before the cancer develops.

A normal test means that the cervix looks healthy (pinkish and round) and all the cells are of a healthy size and shape. An abnormal test means that a cervix has different surface and colour patches and the cells have been found to be of a different size and shape. These Pre-cancerous changes happen in stages and eventually the treatment will be determined by the stage. For all these a person may be totally asymptomatic or have symptoms like persistent vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, lower abdominal pains, loss of weight etc.

Treatment
Early treatment of precancerous changes detected on the Pap smear can stop cervical cancer before it fully develops. Depending on the stage of the abnormality, a patient may be asked to repeat a pap smear in 6 months, in 1 year or straight away be referred to a gynaecologist for further interventions. A cone biopsy (go tsaya namanyana) of the cervix may be done or the whole uterus may be removed (hysterectomy). It is important to discuss the treatment options with your Doctor because there are a lot of factors to consider like the stage of the precancerous stage, a woman’s age and the need or willingness to conceive.

Follow – up
A once off pap smear is not enough. It needs to be done regularly depending on the result of the previous test. Consecutive normal tests may warrant one to repeat the Pap smear in 3-5 years. However, at most risk groups like HIV positives, smokers, women with multiple partners, with recurrent STIs, etc need to do it more often.


Fact: Having a pap smear done is easier and less painful than being pricked to have a sample of blood drawn.

For any help email agboima@yahoo.com

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WeekendLife

200,000 Members of International Church Hold Virtual Prayer Service for Covid-19

22nd September 2020
200,000

After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.

On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.

The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.

Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.

The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.

At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.

“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”

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WeekendLife

AFRIMMA nominates Vee Mampeezy

22nd September 2020
Vee-Mampeezy

The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.

The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.

The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.

However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.

Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.

Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.

“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.

“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”

Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.

Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.

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WeekendLife

Miss Earth Botswana catwalks to save the environment

22nd September 2020
MISS EARTH

Miss Earth Botswana is an annual local environmental-themed beauty pageant competition promoting environmental awarenessconservation and social responsibility. The reigning Queen dedicated her year to promoting specific projects and often addressing issues concerning the environment.

The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.

Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.

Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)

Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.

“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”

For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”

“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.

Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.

“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.

When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.

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