‘Discovering and treating cervical cancer at an early stage has the potential to save thousands of lives.’Jerica van Niekerk
As early as 2016, Dioraphte supported what was termed as the See & Treat project in Kagadi, Uganda, in the fight against cervical cancer. Their principle is very simple: A midwife or nurse will dab the cervix with a cotton swab dipped in a vinegar solution. If the dabbed area becomes discoloured from the vinegar, it is an indication that the person might eventually develop cervical cancer. If the swab displays this kind of colour change, the patient is given immediate preventative treatment, as part of this visit. It costs a mere ten euros per woman to perform this See & Treat screening through the VIA method (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid).
With a new three-year project, the Female Cancer Foundation (FCF) is expanding its work to the surrounding districts. There it aims to increase its scope from the current 7,500 to 15,000 women who are to be screened. In addition, FCF is launching a Traineeship for Trainers alongside its local partner URDT and with the support of the Uganda Cancer Institute. Within three years, forty master trainers will be taught how to instruct nurses on the screening method, resulting in an expected reach of two hundred nurses and midwives. That last point is particularly important for future development, states project manager Jerica van Niekerk. ‘It is important that this expertise is made widely available. We will start with a small number of health centres and continue the training with the best nurses. These nurses then transfer their skills to other health centres, creating a snowball effect in which Ugandan women are able to be seen in an increasing number of centres. And not just for the screening, but also to get the necessary treatment.’
To do this, it is necessary to raise awareness about the problem: primarily among women, but also with their husbands. At the moment, information is spread via radio, flyers, presentations and the use of meetings which are organised by local leaders, wherever possible. Van Niekerk: ‘There is still a great deal of ignorance out there, including from people at the health centres. I think it would be very useful for screening to become a permanent part of Mother and Child care. Discovering and treating cervical cancer at an early stage has the potential to save thousands of lives.’