Saving the Lives of Women in Developing Nations

Cervical cancer screenings programs and partnerships that work

(RxWiki News) While it's well known that invasive cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in developing nations, many countries don't have the resources for adequate screening programs. Now there's a new model.

In 2006, a partnership with the public health system in Zambia was established to create the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia (CCPPZ). To date, 58,000 women have been treated, and thousands of lives have been saved.

"Cervical cancer screening clinics can save thousands of women."

CCPPZ is a partnership between Zambian and United States partner institutions. The University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka and University of Alabama at Birmingham were involved, along with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and Zambian Ministry of Health sectors.

The partnership used the systems in place to fight HIV/AIDS to set up cervical cancer screening programs in public health settings.

Trained nurses form the backbone of the program, and they provide free clinical exams to all women visiting the clinics. They use so-called "screen and treat" methods that combine visual inspections and testing with vinegar to see if there are tissue color changes. If changes are noted, then diseased areas can be removed on the spot using cryotherapy.

Low cost digital cameras are also used to consult with doctors via telemedicine to see if additional testing should be performed.

The partnership has been successful in its efforts in Zambia to not only save lives but find ways to set up "routine prevention intervention" for women in poor countries.

Similar screening programs, the authors suggest, can be established by "promoting shared leadership with government ownership" and partnering with existing public health programs that focus on HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs.

Study findings were pubished in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine.

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Review Date: 
June 24, 2011