Home Institution

Colgate University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


In 2000, the South African Department of Health produced a nationwide policy intended to combat the growing crisis of cervical cancer. Nearly fifteen years later, however, the disease remains a significant cause of death among certain female populations, especially those who are rural, poor, and HIV-positive. It is undeniable that challenges of access, awareness, resource demand, and stigmatization stand in the way of complete policy enactment.

In this study, I explore in detail the barriers that prevent successful implementation of the policy. My research combines interviews with a variety of individuals and participant observation at the Cancer Association of South Africa. Interviews conducted among women piece together perceptions of the disease and the factors that successfully motivate (or in many cases, fail to motivate) the choice to be screened. Additionally, experts, medical professionals, and academics are consulted to explore the combination of socioeconomic, physical, emotional, and cultural factors behind such decisions on the part of both women and professionals. Ultimately, this investigation reveals the weaknesses in the nationwide policy of 2000, and offers a glimpse of how it may better become a reality in the future.


Health Policy | Preventive Medicine | Public Health | Women's Health | Women's Studies


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