Entry Date: 1/31/2012
Author: Tracy Irwin, MD, MPH, Faculty UIC OB/Gyne
How wonderful to be back in Senegal and see old friends. Yesterday was a fantastic day. We held a refresher course for those who train other health care workers in VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) to detect pre-cancerous lesions on the cervix. These women are inspiring in their leadership, insight, and commitment to women’s health. They are articulate and straightforward in what is working so far (trainings, mass screenings) and what is not working (women have pain with exams, the women they see in antenatal clinic and postpartum are too young, women want counseling but when it comes time for the exam they say no to it.) While some may find the numbers of women screened outside of mass screenings (organized events where trainees gather women in a village) disappointing (5 in the past 5 year or 12 in past year), I think it is energizing. There is still a lot of work to do. Education and communication with women and men about cervical cancer will need to be an integral part of our strategy as we move on. How great that Lali and Magda are with us to conduct focus groups and help us create a communications plan.
We rounded today on the maternity ward. Since we are at the regional hospital they get transfers from 3 districts (Saraya, Salamata and Kedougou). The women had profound anemia, peripartum cardiomyopathy, endometritis, hypertension in pregnancy, and normal labor. They also had very cute babies!
Success!! 16 trainees showed up today for the refresher course. Not only did most do well on the pre-test, but everyone passed the post test. It was so inspiring to be in a room with 20 people capable of detecting cervical cancer when only one year ago there was no testing for cervical cancer in the area.
We are a more transient group this time. Staying in a campement for two nights – think somewhere between campground and motel, the peace corps regional house and the Saraya hospital. I am excited to get back to Saraya to see even more old friends and have a chance to share a meal with them.