OBJECTIVE: South Africa launched a cervical screening policy in 2001 and aimed to screen 70% of women aged 30 years and older by the year 2010. The current study describes the performance of the cervical cancer screening programme that was implemented in the Limpopo province between 2007 and 2010.
DESIGN: A retrospective descriptive analysis of data on cervical smears that were collected and evaluated by the National Health Laboratory Services in the Limpopo province from 2007 to 2010.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Screening coverage, smear adequacy, appropriate age for screening and prevalence of premalignancy were calculated.
RESULTS: Overall, 202 251 cervical smears were submitted in the Limpopo province between 2007 and 2010. The number of smears increased from 39 029 in 2007 to 63 512 in 2010. Of the 202 251 women screened, 130 911 (72.7%) were within the recommended screening age (30 years and older). Annual screening coverage rates ranged from 2.9-4.2% of the population of women aged 30 years and older. The cumulative screening coverage during the four years was 13.7%. The mean smear adequacy rate during this time was 98.5%. Of the 202 251
smears, 5 237 (2.5%) reflected high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, while 238 (0.2%) contained malignant lesions.
CONCLUSION: The cervical cancer screening programme in Limpopo improved during the study period, but still fell short of national goals. Key areas that require strengthening include low screening coverage and the screening of young women who are at less risk of acquiring cervical cancer.