Enhancement of the Cervical Cancer Screening Program in Malaysia: A Qualitative Study


Introduction: Cervical cancer has long been known as a preventable disease. Yet it still is a prime women’shealth issue globally. In Malaysia, the current cervical cancer screening program, introduced in the 1960s, hasbeen found to be unsuccessful in terms of Pap smear coverage. The aim of this study is to determine providersperceptives on the program and the feasibility of practicing an organized cervical screening program in Malaysia.
Methods: 11 key informant interviews were conducted with policy makers and health care providers from theMinistry of Health in Malaysia from October 2009 to May 2010. Interviewees’ perceptions were explored oncurrent and organized cervical screening program based on their expertise and experience.
Results: The resultshighlighted that the existing cervical screening program in Malaysia faced flaws at all levels that failed to reducecervical cancer morbidity and mortality. The identified weaknesses were poor acceptance by women, lack ofcommitment by health care providers, nature of the program, an improper follow-up system, limited resourcesand other competing needs. Complementarily, all interviewees perceived an organized cervical screening programas an alternative approach both feasible and acceptable by women and government to practice in Malaysia.
Conclusion: Better screening coverage depends on an effective screening program that incorporates a behaviourbasedstrategy. A new program should be focused in the policy-making context to improve screening coverageand to effectively combat cervical cancer.