Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention is one of FoHA’s intervention programs that focuses on the health of mothers in the rural families with in Uganda. The program seeks to save these mothers from cervical cancer which if not detected and treated early enough will lead to their death. Since this cancer develops very slowly after initial infection with human papilloma virus, it offers a large window of opportunity for finding precancerous lesions through screening. However, most women especially in rural communities are not able to detect and treat the disease early enough and because of this, 80% of all the women who are finally able to break through the barriers are found with an advanced stage disease with very low chances of survival. For this reason, Uganda has been ranked as a country with one of the highest cervical cancer incidence rates in the whole world.
Why worry about Cervical Cancer?
Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide and the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, the greatest burden of this cancer falls most heavily on the poor, marginalized, and rural women due to their unequal access to screening, diagnosis, and treatment. They struggle to overcome these challenges, but in vain and by the time a breakthrough comes, the cancer is already in an advanced stage with close to zero chances of survival.
We worry about Cervical Cancer because; If it strikes the mother, the whole family structure is threatened. Usually these are single mothers struggling to raise their children and they die in pain worried about the future of their children. Since 2014, FoHA has screened hundreds of mothers, sensitizing them about this deadly disease and how it can be prevented. We have made them aware of its early signs and symptoms and have established strong partnerships with the national referral hospital to enable every mother under our care receive quick medical attention in case this cancer and any related condition is suspected.
Cervical Cancer screening is conducted by a team of professional nurses and midwives using a VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) and those with positive findings and eligible precancerous lesions are treated using cryotherapy. Combining screening efforts with timely treatment of all screen positives for HPV infection can prevent progression of cervical cancer.