As part of their Women of Worth campaign which aims to put women’s health at the top of the agenda, Western Cape Government (WCG) Health has outlined the key prevention and screening and maternal healthcare services available to women free-of-charge at their health facilities.
It takes a healthy woman to raise a healthy nation
Your health as a woman starts with realising your value. Women are the backbone of our country, communities and most importantly our families. Women are worth a lot to this nation. That’s why the Department of Health has strengthened women’s health services, which are free of charge. In the long term, improving women’s health will enhance productivity, stimulate the economy and advance social development – thus contributing in ensuring a healthy nation. Make use of the following free health services
Prevention and screening check ups
Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical and breast cancer are the two most common forms of cancer found amongst South African women and all women are at risk of developing these cancers. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. All women should have a pap smear at least every 10 years starting at age 30. This means at around 30, 40 and 50 years of age.
Women and girls whose menstrual periods are one or more weeks late are advised to have a pregnancy test. These tests are free at primary health clinics and other health facilities. The nurse will ask for a urine sample, which will be tested. It is important to confirm your pregnancy early, and ensure that you make the required life-style adjustments, for instance to stop using alcohol.
TB and HIV
The department encourages men and women to actively be screened and tested for HIV and TB on a regular basis. If you have changed a sexual partner ensure you get tested and know your status.
Chronic diseases of lifestyle (Blood pressure, Diabetes and Cholesterol)
Also known as the SILENT KILLER. We often neglect our bodies and do not follow a healthy diet. By doing so we put ourselves at risk of developing one or a combination of diseases of lifestyle. Make sure you go to our health facilities and get tested for Diabetes, Blood pressure or Cholesterol.
Women who start menopause prematurely (before 45 years of age) or who are in menopause and are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms can have a gynecological assessment and examination. Hormonal tests can be done to decide on treatment. Women can ask for counselling to decide on the best treatment option.
Maternal health care services
Antenatal (Pre-Birth) Health Services
Pregnant girls and women are referred to maternity services or Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs) in urban areas and satellite or fixed clinics in the rural areas. MOUs are birthing units run by midwives in the community for primary healthcare patients. It’s advisable for expectant mothers to book their first visit to the clinic before 20 weeks or as soon as possible thereafter.
Mothers can deliver at fixed clinics or Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs), which are run by midwives in the community for primary health care patients. If complications arise during birth then they will be transferred to a hospital up the line. Mothers who are HIV positive can join the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission service.
Contraception (Family Planning)
The service offers counselling on and provision of a range of safe, effective and acceptable contraceptive methods from which women, men and teenagers can freely choose to prevent unwanted pregnancy. For more information and to find your nearest health facility, please visit the Western Cape Government (WCG) Health website. If you don’t live in the Western Cape, visit your local government health department website.