Cervical cancer is a major public health concern in developing countries. In Africa, an estimated 53,000 women die of the disease annualy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The IPPF Africa Region Member Association in Uganda -Reproductive Health Uganda implements the Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventative Therapy (CCSPT) Initiative, which uses static clinics and outreaches as the main service delivery modes.
The CCPT initiative aims at maximizing the number of cancer services offered to women through a validated, low-cost screening and preventative therapy approach. Screening is carried out using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) -an evidence-based and affordable alternative approach for cervical cancer screening in low-resource settings. The CCSPT Initiative offers instant treatment for clients with pre-cancerous lesions using cryotherapy –a method that involves freezing of precancerous lesions.
Ms. Annet Kyarimpa is the Special Projects Coordinator at RHU, and says that the CCSPT Initiative's outreach activities carried out by the organization account for the bulk of clients reached and served (over 75%).
"The success of this approach is largely attributed to the fact that the outreaches are conducted in lower level health facilities (including government health facilities) that provide a conducive service delivery environment, where key considerations are factored," she says. These considerations include:
- Privacy of the client
- Appropriate consultation/examination rooms with adequate lighting
- Spacious waiting areas
- The opportunity to access other health services such as malaria treatment during the single visit.
RHU's cervical cancer outreaches also provide an integrated SRH package including cervical cancer screening and cryotherapy treatment (possible with mobile carbon dioxide 10kg cylinders), STIs screening and management, HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) as well as family planning services. In addition, RHU targets and works with established ART clinics in various public health facilities to reach out to women living with HIV through the provision of CCSPT services.
“These are high-risk women, and RHU takes advantage of the already mobilized groups to offer them services within their existing facilities as they seek other services. For example, every Thursday RHU’s Fort Portal clinic visits and provides CCSPT services to ART patients at the Fort-portal Regional Referral Hospital. Working space was provided by the MCH department to support the partnership,” says Ms. Kyarimpa..
RHU’s Kampala branch recently had a successful collaboration with Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), where we were invited to provide family planning services and cervical cancer screening to HIV positive women attending IDI outreaches and health camps.
RHU’s partnership with Rotary clubs has also helped reach-out to women and girls beyond the geographical coverage of the five RHU sites implementing the CCSPT Initiative. Rotary clubs conduct quarterly health camps within identified communities to address various health issues. They mobilize communities for services and procure medical supplies for use during the camp as well as cater for service providers’ accommodation in instances were providers have to sleep in the community. RHU provides transport for the service providers and SDA for the service providers.
Story by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, IPPF Africa Region