Sorcery beliefs linked to PNG's cervical cancer problem

9:56 pm on 19 January 2016

Papua New Guineans in rural communities are blaming symptoms of cervical cancer on black magic and witchcraft.

That was the conclusion of a team from the PNG Cancer Relief Society, which recently returned from a week-long awareness campaign targeting 13 villages in the Huon Gulf district.

The Post Courier reports about a Health Department nationwide awareness campaign aimed at eliminating cervical cancer through HPV vaccination and screening.

Lae cancer awareness co-ordinator Grace Ruddaka says the government must fund awareness campaigns in rural PNG to reduce the number one killer of women.

Ms Ruddaka says many women showed signs of cancer, but because of lack of cancer awareness, the signs are put down to witchcraft and black magic.

She says as a result, these women don't seek treatment at an early stage but rather leave it, then are rushed to the hospital only to be told that they have stage three or four cancer of the cervix.

Women and children in Papua New Guinea's Highlands region.

Women and children in Papua New Guinea's Highlands region. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades