(SFH Territory, Lafia) Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in developing countries, with approximately 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths recorded each year. Around the world, a woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes. Women in developing countries suffer disproportionately from the burden of cervical cancer and account for over 80% of cases. In Nigeria, it is the second most frequent cancer in women, after breast cancer.
The Society for Family Health uses its Public Health Interventions including Behavior Change Communication Strategy to improve access and availability to Cervical Cancer health information and services. In addition, SFH Nigeria through established linkages provide referrals for higher quality services in Tertiary Health Facilities in their States of operation. SFH through its Social Franchise unit currently provides free Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventative Therapy (CCS&PT) to women in rural communities in Nigeria and with aim to reduce incidences of death from cervical cancer.
As part of SFH’s approach in providing integrated Sexual Reproductive Health Services, the SHiPS for MARPS Lafia field office collaborated with the SMoH to provide free cervical cancer screening and preventative treatment for eligible women Akwanga and environs. The Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NaPHDA) and the PHC department at the LGA provided the necessary support for the process. The awareness creation, screening and management of the early stages of cervical cancer was conducted at Auta Balefi, Kuchidna and the Primary Healthcare Centre – Wamba Road Akwanga, where staff at the facility supported with mobilization.
While the overall goal of the outreach was to contribute to Nasarawa state health impact through the achievement of the SHiPS for MARPs purpose, the activity had the following specific objectives:
To mobilize and raise public awareness especially sexually active women ages 30-49 on the need for CCS & PT thereby improving overall coverage of the total population; To ensure that clients positive to VIA are treated using cryotherapy; To reduce to minimal the number of cervical cancer death among women and To ensure all suspicious cases of cervical cancer are referred to higher facility for early treatment
The SHiPS for MARPs through its existing partnership with the Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Department engaged with PHCC medical team in developing an implementation strategy. The strategy sought to identify and mobilize women between the ages of 30-49 years; from the rural and semi-urban community which the facility services. The team also engaged civil society organisation working among FSW (Female Sex Workers) to ensure the target group is effectively mobilized to the point of services.
The team at the PHCC Wamba Road performed greatly as they met and engaged with community Heads and religious congregations in mobilizing for the free screening while also putting out public notification for the CCS &PT outreach. In order to maximize intervention outcomes, the CCS outreach was strategically conducted on a Women Health and Child Immunization day at the facility.
The total number of women screened during the outreaches across the three communities stood at 133 clients out of which 12 positive cases was identified. From the positive cases, 11 clients were treated immediately (offered preventative treatments) adopting the see and treat approach while the 12th client was referred to the FMC in Keffi for further management as the lesion was greater than 75%.
The success recorded in the activity showed the strength in leveraging existing service through effective linkages and collaboration. This collaboration was evident in the partnerships created with community and religious bodies, SFH Social Franchise unit, NSPHCDA, Health Facility and Community Based Organizations. In view the successes recorded in this first round out the outreach, the SHiPS for MARPs team Lafia in collaboration with SFH Social Franchise team from Abuja with support from the SMoH and NSPHCDA plans to hold another set of outreaches in Akwanga and two other LGAs to be determined by the SMoH during the week of September 11- 15 2017.
By: Roselyn Odeh, TM Nasarrawa State