The CureCervicalCancer team arrived in Mwanza, Tanzania on Sunday with a warm greeting from our new partners of UC Irvine’s School of Medicine. We are thrilled to be working with an amazing group of medical students, who are dedicated to saving lives and establishing two new sustainable “See and Treat” clinics. Our senior intern coordinator, Yvonne, attended a church service with the medical students to meet our kind and generous host, Brother Eric. She was happy to report that this week’s events were highly promoted through numerous radio announcements, church sermons, and fliers from Brother Eric!
Today was an exciting day to watch CCC in action. The team is here in Mwanza, training health care providers in the region with the UCI medical students . Myself and 2 PA students from St Catherine University in Minnesota were fortunate to have the opportunity to travel from Arusha with local OB/GYN registrar, Dr Mbise, to learn to use cryotherapy. Dr Mbise is a well-trained physician and has a weekly VIA cervical cancer screening clinic at a district hospital and even does outreach into rural areas but unfortunately his hospital doesn’t have the funding for cryotherapy to treat precancerous lesions. Therefore, VIA + patients are referred 2 hours away to the nearest hospital with cryotherapy facilities, and as one can imagine, many patients never actually go. Dr Mbise and myself have been working together on cancer screening and prevention projects in Arusha and I was inspired by the work of CCC and we applied and were the recipients of a grant from the PA Foundation to provide the cryotherapy equipment to have a one step “See and Treat” program. Of course receiving funding for the equipment is only half the battle. Getting proper training, experience, and clear instructions to care for the machine are invaluable to starting a successful and safe cryotherapy program that is sustainable. Today we received a comprehensive lecture from Caitlin, Yvonne, and Ellen regarding the practical use and care of the equipment. The lecture had several examples of cervical findings including normal variants, VIA +, and cervical cancer lesions. It was interactive and the participants got up to the screen and pointed out the findings, actively learning. Tomorrow we start screening women and we are one day closer to having the only cryotherapy program in the Arusha area of Tanzania not to mention the programs that will now be possible in Mwanza. We are grateful to CCC for sharing their knowledge and expertise!
By: Tara Rick oncology PA-C and adjunct professor St Catherine PA program