By Lorraine Anyango and Faith Lawino.
The slogan “Care for caregivers” was demonstrated in Kisumu County, indeed LRED First Ladies and the department of medical services, public health, and sanitation stood in agreement that it was time to scale up cervical cancer screening ambition.
Kisumu County committed to screening 70 percent of its population, this would translate to the eradication of cervical cancer in the next five years. Currently, about 30,000 are being screened annually.
The shared commitment to limiting the number of women coming to the hospital with full-blown cervical cancer was also shared by several partners, who joined in to ensure that female health workers also get to be screened.
This initiative also brought on board the AFRICA Cancer Foundation in partnership with Matibabu Foundation which donated a total of 25,000 pairs of FIGS medical scrubs to health workers, targeting those working at the oncology.
As the cervical cancer awareness month comes to a close, the female health workers in Kisumu did not just receive scrubs, they have a week to access free screening using the superior test which is HPV, DNA test which is the recommended cervical cancer screening modality.
This is a self-collection of samples that guarantees privacy and confidence. A normal day would see this test priced between KSH.4000-5000. This golden opportunity is made possible through the partnership with Duke University.
The scrubs handover was led by Mama Kisumu and Dorothy Nyong’o at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH). The intent of scrubs one sworn is to remind and encourage health workers to keep the bar higher in eradicating and preventing cervical cancer.
The # Careforcaregivers is a sign of love and care, for the caregivers cannot administer to the rest if they are neglected or abandoned. This is to say that even the caregivers are at risk of developing cervical cancer and hence they all should get screened for the same. A sick caregiver equates to a sicker patient.
Mama Kisumu was accompanied by First Ladies from Migori, Nyamira, and Bungoma counties. First Lady, Agnes Ochillo, H.E Emily Nyaribo, and H.E Margaret Lusaka respectively. In their speeches, the first ladies advocated for regular cervical cancer screening to prevent cervical cancer. Mrs. Nyaribo in particular said; “Who will our sons marry if we don’t take our daughters for HPV vaccination and ladies for cervical cancer screening?” A sick nation today, is a dead nation tomorrow.
This is a call for all females to know their cervical cancer status. It is a collective responsibility for everyone to call out, advocate and shout out loud to create awareness of cervical cancer screening.
The CEC medical services and public health and sanitation lauded the advocacy for cervical cancer screening being carried out by the first ladies saying it had the power to change the cancer story.
The launch of caregiver screening comes at a time when the whole globe advocates for cervical cancer screening. January is cervical cancer screening awareness month which aims to sensitize everyone even those in marginalized areas to come out and get screened for cervical cancer. Cancer of the cervix is preventable. It is also treatable when detected in its early stages.
The current statistics of cancer patients at JOOTRH according to the Director of Nursing, Mrs. Okiri Teresa records about 44 cases. This only accounts for patients admitted to the wards for different types of cancer. Among the cases are 9 who are cervical cancer positive. The number is quite high. If the numbers were to include those who seek outpatient services such as chemotherapy, then it proves that cervical is a menace that should be dealt with as soon as possible. This can be done through screening tests which include the VILI (Visual Inspection with Lugol’s iodine), VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid), and HPV testing.
Kisumu county therefore, through the #careforcaregivers is offering free cervical cancer screening for healthcare workers at JOOTRH and Kisumu County Referral Hospital (KCRH). The activity commenced at JOOTRH on 23rd January and is set to end on 25th and KCR from 26th -27th.
The occasion came to its peak through a cake-cutting session to mark the beginning of a cervical cancer-free Kisumu. Everyone had a piece of the delicious and expertly-baked cake. The sweetness within symbolized how amazing it would be if there were zero cervical cancer cases. Just as the ingredients are mixed to form a nice cake, shows collaborative force to end cancer of the cervix.
The amazing event was also supported by the International Cancer institute, Boresha Jamii, Tumaini la Maish, and Matibabu Foundation.