Clerah R Elia Sue Devine


Background: Globally cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women and in some low-income countries is the most common cancer in women. Papua New Guinea has a particularly concerning incidence of cervical cancer where it ranks first as the leading cause of cancer in females. Screening is a reliable strategy to detect cervical cancer but implementation of screening in Papua New Guinea is poor. The aim of this review is to identify the enablers and barriers for cervical cancer screening in Papua New Guinea.

Methods: A systematic search of peer-reviewed literature was conducted using electronic databases; PubMed, Medline, Scopus, CINAHL and Google Scholar. Articles published between 2007 and 2017 that focused on the enablers and barriers to cervical cancer screening were included. Only one study from Papua New Guinea was identified so the search was extended to include other Pacific Island Countries and Low-Income Countries more broadly.

Findings: Twenty articles met the inclusion criteria. The main barriers for cervical cancer screening included a lack of women’s knowledge about cervical cancer and screening, a lack of health facilities for screening, diagnosis and treatment, lack of health care worker knowledge and training, cultural beliefs and financial burdens. The main enablers included women having access to education programs, availability of cervical cancer screening services, female friendly environments and health care workers being trained to undertake screening.

Conclusions: While the literature highlighted the importance of cervical cancer screening, a range of barriers limits the delivery of this service in low-income country settings.  In particular, there is a gap in the knowledge of barriers and enablers within Papua New Guinea and further research in this country is required. Applying the knowledge learned from other low-income countries and gaining a clearer understanding of both the barriers and enablers for cervical cancer screening in the Papua New Guinea context may lead to clear recommendations to improve implementation and uptake of cervical cancer screening.


Original Research