Cervical Screening at Nkhoma
One of the great things about helping with the loading of Raven Trust containers is the number of interesting people you can meet and the stories they have to tell. On the left is a picture of Professor Heather Cubie who has been leading a team setting up a sustainable cervical screening programme in Nkhoma Hospital and 5 surrounding health centres. She came to Strachur with a microscope, bench centrifuge and ultrasound scanner to be securely packed and sent off in the container.
In Malawi, cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer among women of reproductive and economically important age and has a 80% mortality.There is no national screening programme for cervical cancer and many women have inadequate access to treatment. Ostracisation of women with severe symptoms and limited palliative care add to the misery of sufferers.
In the first 2 years of the scheme which is partly funded by the Scottish Government, the team got permission from 84 Group Village Headmen to speak to around 30,000 people in the region and, in addition, a potential 120,000 have been reached by local radio broadcasts. 24 Malawian health professionals have been trained to provide the service and treat early lesions and 75% of those with early signs of abnormality are treated the same day.
Sadly the clinics still see too many women with cancers which are too advanced for immediate treatment and there is little that Malawi can offer in terms of chemo- or radiotherapy, but the project does ensure that there women have their diagnoses fully explained and are offered surgery or palliative care where appropriate.
Year 3 of the project will extend the service to 5 more health centres and consolidate training. If more funding can be secured, the team hope to extend their ‘hub and spokes’ model to additional hospitals and their health centres.